PETRONILA OCH TIPOL
Update from February 28, 2018:
"Before I did nothing or just some weaving for someone else. Now I can weave and save my profits. Before I did not have the means to get ahead, I had to ask for credit in stores, but now it is no longer necessary," Petronila told us.
Since starting the program, Petronila has seen significant changes in her life. Today, Petronila grows crops in her yard and wants to build a toilet for the family. In addition, with the income from weaving güipiles, her family bought cement to make more improvements to their home.
Petronila is dedicated to making textiles and working in her shop. She currently has $124 (Q946) in working capital, which is slightly less than her initial investment of $140, but an increase over last two quarters when she had $35 (Q266) and $110 (Q835), respectively. Petronila wants to increase her stock for the store, explaining “products were given on credit to some customers who didn’t pay for them. Now I do not give on credit, and intend to invest the profits of selling güipiles in the store."
Meanwhile, her husband has gone to work for the next two months on the Honduran border. She says, "When my husband is away, I worry a little but less than before because now I can stay occupied and have an income. In previous years, I went around to stores asking to buy on credit, but this year I sell my güipiles or I can use products from my store and restock when I have cash."
In the savings group, Petronila explains: "I saved a little: at first I did not understand much, but in the end I managed to save $55 (Q421). I want to save more in the second cycle." To date, she has $8 (Q60) after two months of saving. With her first year of savings, she bought supplies for the store and hopes to buy new metal sheets to change her roof with the savings this year.
Another significant change in Petronila is that she is more outspoken and likes to speak publicly, whereas a year ago she felt timid and shy. Trickle Up's program has been a learning experience for her and she is now able to analyze her expenses better. She says, "in the future, I would like to continue to have the enthusiasm to carry on."
Update from August 15, 2017:
After doing a market assessment, Petronila decided to invest her seed capital in a store selling daily necessities.
There are several houses nearby, ensuring she’ll have customers. While there is another store in the area, it closes early at 6:30 pm, and she plans to stay open later to attract more customers. With the profits, she hopes to afford food year round and fix her house.
Since the beginning, Petronila has been excited and proud to join the savings group, develop her business plan, and start her business. Her family feels confident about Trickle Up’s project because they had heard about the program from one of their relatives, who was a Trickle Up participant a few years ago in a different community.
Petronila invested her $132 (Q1000) seed capital and an additional $8 (Q62.5) of her own money to open the store. She gave birth a few months ago and still can’t carry heavy things so her husband helps her buy and transport products for the store. The store technically closes at 8:00 pm, but if someone arrives later, she’ll still serve them. To diversify her income, she also bought chickens to raise and sell, and her daughter is weaving. After just three months, her working capital was $121 (Q920). She plans to sell her chickens soon and increase her working capital again. Then she intends to buy more chickens, grow her store, and buy medicine for her family.
Petronila and her husband try to stock their store with the products their clients request. However, she is worried that people are still accustomed to buying from the store along the road, and she lacks enough products to be able to compete.
Nevertheless, with her income she has bought three planks to reinforce the back wall of her house with pillars. The church donated blocks to build the base of the wall, and Petronila’s family provided the labor. Now the house has a wall made up of a block base and fused posts, which reassures the family about the house’s structural stability. On our latest visit, we noticed that water no longer seeps into the house, despite a landslide behind the house.
Petronila says that through the program’s training she learned how to generate an income and how to save. She is grateful to be included in the program and excited to be learning to succeed. She had never known or participated in this type of group before, “It’s like a form of waking up: if I was not participating, I would not be doing anything,” Petronila told us.
Not having stable and regular income before, she was afraid to save. However, she now says the savings group “is valuable, it would be difficult to do it at home. If I get money, I know where I can save it.” After five months in the savings group, she already has $25 (Q190) saved. Her husband supports her and always reminds her to go to the meetings. “If I want to borrow money, I can do it there. It’s an idea, a novelty in the community.” Petronila borrowed $39 (Q300) to buy sugar, soap, and cookies for her store. At the end of the cycle, she hopes to add products to her store and buy food for her children, soap to wash clothes, clothing, and footwear. In addition, Petronila and her fellow savings group members give each other advice so they stay involved and strive together.
Despite being only a few months into the project, Petronila has already noticed changes in her life. Now she is working, and she has the opportunity to leave the house more frequently. Her daughters note changes in their lives too; mentioning for example, “no more water enters the house.” Her 14-year-old daughter even gets involved in the business helping with the store’s records.
Check back with us in January to see how Petronila and her family have expanded their businesses, invested their savings, and continued their journey out of extreme poverty.
Update from March 22, 2017:
Petronila, 35, is a shy, quiet woman who lives in Jolomche, Tamahú, with her husband, 4 daughters, and 3 sons, ages 6 months to 21 years. She was selected to join the Rio Jolomche savings group because she and her large family live in extreme poverty and vulnerability.
In Jolomche, homes are built on steep mountainsides, and landslides are a common occurrence, particularly during the rainy season. Petronila’s mud wall home is at risk of collapsing entirely: one side of the house became flooded after the ground behind it collapsed. In 2011, when her husband, Samuel Coy Coc, became seriously ill, members of the church assisted the family in shoring up their house. They put in wooden posts and maintained them for two months, but since then the house has continued to deteriorate. Despite the vulnerability of the house, Petronila keeps her home clean, swept, and tidy, just as her mother taught her to do when she was a child.
Petronila’s family has very little income, which isn’t enough to cover basic necessities for all nine family members. Their primary income is from Samuel’s day labor wages. He also cultivates their small plot of corn, which feeds the family for 7-8 months of the year. Petronila takes care of the children and domestic duties of the house. She occasionally weaves to supplement their income, but currently doesn’t have much time because she is caring for her six-month-old baby, so one of her daughters weaves instead.
It is difficult for Petronila’s family to afford enough food, soap, and sugar, and they have no resources to buy medicine if someone gets sick. They eat greens (macuy, güisquil tip, chipilín), beans, and sometimes can afford to buy rice. She tells us this brutal truth: “If we get money, yes we eat, but if not, we don’t.” The stores almost never let Petronila buy on credit, but occasionally she can borrow some money from neighbors. During the lean season, from May to August, Petronila’s family finds it difficult to survive.
Petronila hopes to improve the conditions of her house, and hopes her children graduate with professional degrees so they can have a better quality of life. She also hopes to someday buy land so they can plant their own crops.
We are excited to share Petronila’s experiences building confidence, starting a business, and lifting her family out of extreme poverty when we check back in with her in July!