Enthusiasm to Carry On
Petronila Och Tipol, 35, is a shy, quiet woman who lives in Jolomche, Tamahú, with her husband, 4 daughters, and 3 sons, aged 6 months to 21 years.
In Jolomche, homes are built on steep mountainsides, and landslides are a common occurrence, particularly during the rainy season. Petronila’s mud wall home was at risk of collapsing entirely. 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 had deteriorated again.
The family’s income, primarily from Samuel’s day labor, wasn’t enough to cover basic necessities for all nine family members. He also cultivated a small plot of corn, which fed the family for 7-8 months of the year. Petronila took care of the children and domestic duties of the house. She would occasionally weave to supplement their income, but often didn’t have much time because she was caring for her younger children.
It was difficult for Petronila’s family to afford enough food, soap, and sugar, and they had no resources to buy medicine if someone got sick. She told 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 would borrow some money from neighbors. During the lean season, from May to August, Petronila’s family found it difficult to survive.
After joining Trickle Up’s program and 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’s another store in the area, it closes early at 6:30 pm, so she planned to stay open later to attract more customers.
Since the beginning, Petronila has been excited and proud to join the Rio Jolomche savings group, develop her business plan, and start her business. Her family was 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 into the program and couldn’t carry heavy things so her husband helped her buy and transport products for the store. The store technically closes at 8:00 pm, but if someone arrives later, she still serves 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).
Petronila and her husband try to stock their store with the products their customers request. However, she was worried that people were accustomed to buying from the store along the road, and she lacked enough products to be able to compete.
Nevertheless, with her income she bought three planks to reinforce the back wall of her house with pillars. The local 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. The water no longer seeps into the house, even despite a recent landslide behind the house.
Petronila says that she’s 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. Petronila explains that in the savings group, "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." 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. In the current savings cycle, she has $8 (Q60) after just two months. She 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.”
Her husband supports her and always reminds her to go to the savings group meetings. The group also helps her access low-interest credit: “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. In addition, Petronila and her fellow savings group members give each other advice so they stay involved and strive to move forward together.
"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, where she currently has $124 (Q946) in working capital. 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."
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."
Petronila Och Tipol, Jolomche, Tamahú, Guatemala
Mother, entrepreneur, homeowner