A few days ago, I went to visit Mrs. Francisca at her Cevicheria accompanied by Karla and Ninoska, Kiva Coordinators at Asociación Arariwa . For those wondering, a Cevicheria is where cheviche is served – a traditional Latin American dish typically made of fresh raw fish and/or seafood marinated in lime, with chopped onions and chili peppers, additional seasoning may be added. If it is not “picante” (hot) it is not cheviche! So they say.

Francisca’s place is simple. From her house, near Cusco’s airport, Francisca prepares the ceviche and sells at the front door, setting up a few tables, or selling to go. Francisca works from Monday to Sunday serving only at lunch time. Meals cost from 7 to 9 nuevos soles (aprox. 2-3 usd), and include rice, sweet potato, corn and chicha morada (a sweet Peruvian beverage made from purple corn). Serving 30 meals a day is a good day, but during weekends, Francisca doubles this amount. At weekends she gets help from her son and daughter, it’s a busy place!  

Karla and Ninoska in front of Francisca’s Cevicheria

Francisca received us with a shy smile, and invited us to try her ceviche… it was delicious! 

Ceviche ready to eat or to take away in small plastic bags

We talk for more than half hour about business, family and food, while I was doing a “borrower verification”, something Kiva Fellows do, so we can all keep on relying in field partners and in this amazing Kiva network.

I could not resist asking Francisca about the secret of her great ceviche. I love the answer: “You have to do it with enthusiasm and joy!”.

It was also with enthusiasm and joy that Francisca spoke about how well her business is going and about her gratitude to all lenders, to Arariwa and to Kiva. She has been working with Kiva field partner Asociación Arariwa for a few years  now, always paying back on time, and investing in her business (e.g. a bigger fridge, more plates, buying more quantity of products and supplies) and in the education of her children. Her older son is studying Biopharma at the university and the younger daughter is in high school. 

Francisca serving her delicious ceviche

Before joining Arariwa and the communal bank “Qorichuspas”, Francisca was selling beverages on the street, but friends always told her how such a good cook she was.  With these small loans she was able to start her Cevicheria. Not only the loans made her start a profitable business, as well as being a client of Arariwa, she was taught to save money, to run a business, to be financial responsible and to be supportive to other communal bank members. Savings and solidarity are at the core of communal banks.

It is with inspiring people like Francisca that Arariwa deals every day.

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About the author

Mariana Oom

Mariana was born in Lisbon, Portugal. She is passionate about travelling and always eager for new experiences in new cultures. No wonder Mariana pursued an international career at the Portuguese Trade & Investment Agency (AICEP Portugal Global). For more than a decade, she has been dedicated to the promotion of Portugal and the Portuguese companies and products around the world. Her last assignment was as the Economic and Commercial Counsellor at the Consulate General of Portugal in Macao, P.R. China, cumulating with being the Portuguese Delegate at the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries (Forum Macau). Previously, Mariana helped open and run the Agency branch in San Francisco, CA. She returned to Portugal as a desk officer for South America and Spain. Earlier positions and jobs were in marketing and international business. Mariana graduated from Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa (ISCTE, Lisbon) in Business and Administration Management, and studied at Glasgow University under the EU/Comett II program. After travelling to developing countries, she feels the need to contribute to a fairer world. She is taking a sabbatical to volunteer as a Kiva Fellow and is thrilled to working with field partners in Peru, Bolivia and India.