¡Say Cheese!

One of my favorite activities as a Kiva Fellow is meeting with borrowers. And, the borrowers are usually happy to have a visitor and proud to show their business. Recently, I had the privilege of meeting borrower Dianira, who makes cheese daily. With her loan, Dianira was able to purchase more milk because her business is growing by word of mouth. Three times per week she purchases 50 liters of milk and one bucket of whey. With each 50 liters of milk, Dianira is able to make approximately 26 pounds of cheese  – the most popular being mozzarella and pita.

Meeting Borrower Dianira

When I arrived at Dianira’s house, she excitedly told me that she was going to show me her cheese making process. The first step is to boil the whey. She then adds a pill to the milk to help it clot. Once the whey is boiling, she pours some into the milk to help gelatinize the milk. She continues this process until the cheese has started to form.

Boiling Whey

Mixing the Milk and Whey

Next, Dianira strains the cheese and saves the whey for the next batch.

Straining the Cheese

In a new bowl, she adds salt to the cheese. Then more boiling whey is added. With this extremely hot whey, Dianira kneads the cheese with her hands to give shape to the cheese.

Kneading the Cheese

For the mozzarella, Dianira forms a ball and places the cheese into a mold.

Mozzarella Cheese

For the pita, the cheese is stretched, formed into a string shape, and is placed back in the whey to add more flavor.

Pita Cheese

Lastly, it was time for the taste test with tortillas. . . . The cheese was delicious!

Eating the Cheese with Executive Director of Kiva’s Field Partner FAPE Manuel García Marroquín
and FAPE’s Loan Officer Vilma Chiquitó Jutzuy

Dianira has had her cheese business for four years and truly enjoys her work. She uses the money she earns to pay for the education of her three children and to pay for the construction on her house. She currently lives in her in-laws' house and hopes to finish her own house within the next year. Dianira dreams of purchasing her own cows to use their milk for her cheese. 

About the author

Kelly Diggins

Kelly was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. She received a BA in Global Economics and Latin American Studies from UC Santa Cruz, which included studying abroad at Complutense University of Madrid, Spain for one year, and a summer in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Kelly also received a Trans-Global Executive MBA from Saint Mary’s College of California. During the MBA program, Kelly became interested in corporate social responsibility, including the social and environmental benefits and impacts of an organization. Additionally, Kelly co-authored a business plan to promote her client’s sustainability principles across Zanzibar, East Africa in a way that resulted in certain social, cultural, and financial benefits to local communities at the base of the economic pyramid. Kelly has extensive experience in Latin America as an Amigos de las Americas volunteer working on community service projects and focusing on sustainable development while living in Honduras, Paraguay, and The Dominican Republic. Kelly is excited for this opportunity to serve as a Kiva Fellow and participate in collaborative economic development.