By Sandra Pina, KF16, Honduras.
What would you do with 5 lempiras (26 cents)? Toss it it in your coin jar? Tip your barista? What if I told you that with 5 lempiras, a bit of business savvy and determination, you could start your own business. Skeptical? Of course you are. I was too, until I met Ever.
Ever is from Teocinte, a small community of 30 families located in the municipality of San Rafael. It took six hours to reach Teocinte from ODEF Financiera’s main office in San Pedro Sula. Three hours from S.P.S to Gracias and then another 3 hours from Gracias to Teocinte. The second leg was filled with rain, mud, steep inclines, ditches and rocks, lots of them. It was one of the most intense and nerve-wracking rides I have ever taken, but Ever was well worth the journey!
Ever is a sole proprietor and runs a pulpería (think – corner store or bodega). He’s been in business for only one month and sells a small variety of goods: rice, sugar, salt, coffee, soap, juice, chips, candy, matches and lime powder. He runs a modest establishment and has an inventory worth 280 lempiras, about $15 USD. Like any serious business owner, Ever maintains a ledger complete with prices, sales, expected profits, expenses and uncollected income. He threw numbers at us without consulting his ledger, and did so with ninja-like precision.
Ever’s journey began one month ago when he sold a piece of ocote – type of pine commonly used as kindle – for a profit of 5 lempiras. He then purchased and sold cal, lime powder used to treat corn. Soon thereafter, Ever opened up shop outside his mother’s home. One well-placed sign and a few wooden shelves later, Pulpería Ever was open for business. By now, you’re probably wondering what makes Ever so remarkable. He sounds like many other store owners who managed to build something from almost nothing. Well, yes and no. I withheld an interesting bit of information about Ever. Ready for it readers?
Ever is only 10 years old! TEN YEARS OLD!
The body of a ten-year old, but the smarts and spirit of someone with many more years of life experience. There was nothing miniature about this kid’s knack for business. All it took to begin building was an idea, startup cash, motherly love and encouragement, and a bit of knowledge of his customers’ needs. Talk about a go-getter.
Between the lot of visitors, we bought most of the juice and chips Ever had in stock. Pear nectar and orange cheese puffs make an unexpectedly delicious combo! Unfazed by the sales, Ever started planning his trip to replenish stock. In true entrepreneurial form, Ever asked to hitch a ride so that he wouldn’t have to walk 30 minutes to his supplier.
As we drove off with Ever in tow, I wondered what the next 10 years would hold for him. I secretly wished he were 21 and in need of a loan so that he could be featured as ODEF Financiera’s very first Kiva borrower. Who knows, maybe one day Ever will head into an ODEF office seeking a business loan and happily agree to be featured on Kiva.org. If that day ever comes, I will have my $25 (or $50 or $100) ready. I hope you will too!
Sandra Pina is a Kiva Fellow working with ODEF Financiera, S.A. in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Stay tuned for loans from Kiva’s newest Honduran partner. Find out how you can make a loan or how to become a Kiva Fellow.