Without a doubt, the participants of this income-generating program are very enthusiastic about their baking classes and the sale of their products. They are learning to prepare a variety of alfajores with different flavors, and they are also making empanadas with beef or chicken.
The electric oven used for these pastries was acquired with funds from the Collique Cuffs Program. It is a great help. At the time of this report, the women have prepared and sold 50 alfajores and 200 beef and chicken empanadas.
They meet every Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. in the kitchen on the third floor of OSA-House. The baking classes and the community savings group meet every Tuesday from 3:00 until 5:00.
The selling price of the empanadas is 3 soles each (about $1), and they are made of high-quality ingredients.
The participants are changing their way of thinking. They used to become easily discouraged when they confronted family or financial problems; now they know they can overcome them because they value what they have achieved. It’s important to hear them encouraging one another when they gather to prepare and sell their products. They are also learning to apply Biblical principles as a basis for their savings and their enterprise.
From what they earn from their sales, they are investing in a community savings plan. They meet every two weeks to learn about solidarity, unity, common objectives, the functions of the leadership, bookkeeping, and running a meeting.
They have elected a leadership team: Emma Arias is president, Elvira Pajares is treasurer, Flor Ramírez is secretary, and Mery Mollares is spokesperson.
Their savings can be from 10 soles every two weeks up to what each one deems sufficient. They have agreed on their policies of participation and how they will open their combined savings account. At the time of this report, they had saved 540 soles (about $165). Each contribution is recorded in the leadership records, in the savings notebooks, and in a public record that everyone can see. This transparency is very important.
They have decided to open a savings account. After investigating several banks, they decided to open a community savings account free of service fees.
The group hopes to strengthen their ties of friendship, to value the agreement they have made, and to support their families with the income from their shop.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this account of how a group of OSA moms in Collique banded together to generate income by selling baked goods. However, we want to emphasize the life transforming aspects of this project. For most of these women, this has been their first opportunity to apply basic business skills such as making budgets, bookkeeping, reinvesting profits to grow a business, bank accounts, establishing business plans, electing leadership, etc. They have also developed important life skills by meeting and learning together in a cooperative way.
Unfortunately, this enterprise came to an abrupt “pause” when, in mid-March 2020, the Peruvian government imposed severe social distancing rules in their effort to control the spread of COVID-19. While they wait for the opportunity to restart the enterprise, these women exhibited another lesson well learned: Christian charity.
Charo Correa, our social worker and author of this report, shared the following from the president of the cooperative enterprise: “We met and decided that we would use some of our funds to provide food parcels for two of the mothers in the group in greatest need. Everybody agreed that was the right thing to do.”