A loan of $7,250 helped a member to buy sacks of flour, plastic trays, shredded coconut, sugar, chocolate, marmalate, eggs, beads and condensed milk.

Sonrisas Frente Al Mar Group's story

This communal bank is called “Sonrisas Frente al Mar” (Smiles Before the Sea) and it has 20 members who carry out a variety of lines of work among which are: herb sales, store, vacuum packed potatoes, knitting, turnover sales, artisanal chocolate sales, clothing sales, hot-dog with salad sales and services, among others. All are from the city of Valparaíso.

Juan is communal bank treasurer and in the photo he’s seated in the last row, second from left to right. His hair is short and he has a swarthy complexion. He’s been a baker and pastry chef for the last five years. He comments that he works from home where he set up his workshop. He works Monday to Sunday and he arranges his schedule according to availability. He makes ‘alfajores’ [filled sesame seed pastries], truffles, cakes, Bundt cakes, lemon pies, bread, and turnovers that he sells at home and sometimes he delivers the pastries and baked goods to his customers. He buys merchandise and ingredients as needed in Valparaíso and Villa Alemana in stores where he gets the merchandise at low cost which is economically advantageous for him.

He will use the loan to buy sacks of flour, plastic trays, shredded coconut, powdered sugar, glazing chocolate, marmalade, eggs, sugar beads and condensed milk. One of Juan’s goals is to open a locale with all proper, up-to-date documentation to tend to all his clientele and continue receiving even more to generate higher income that will lead to improved quality of life.

Juan lives with his brother who is also a member of the communal bank. His dream on a work level is to have his own locale to sell his merchandise in and on a personal level to stay in good health to continue working.

He is very happy and grateful for the opportunity Fondo Esperanza is giving him because it will allow him to invest in his business. He comments that there is very good communication among the communal bank members and on the other hand, the training has been very useful to learn new sales and bookkeeping strategies.

Valparaíso is located 120 kilometers northeast of Santiago. It’s the regional capital and also the seat of the country’s legislative branch of government. It’s the nation’s main port and it has a variety of beautiful, picturesque places, like Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda’s house, for example.

In this group: Juan, Catherin, Maritza, Nathalie, Carolina, Yasna, Cristian, Marcela, Veronica, Karen, Yenny, Yolanda, Jorge, Raquel, Dayans, Fabiola, German, Raquel, Jacqueline, Gilda, Maria Cristina

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Translated from Spanish by Kiva volunteer Polliz

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