A group of eight women sat outside the school classroom, gripping posters and reciting presentations amid frequent outbursts of nervous laughter. One by one they entered and pitched their business ideas and investment plans to a panel of judges. The judges were impressed; their prying questions repeatedly returned with a calm authority and it was clear that these women knew their business plans inside out.
This “Dragons’ Den” day was designed to help us decide how to fairly divide a grant, generously provided by Filanthropy, between the women. Following the presentations, we sat down with the judges to hear their thoughts and discuss how to split up the pot in a way that catered to the investment needs of each entrepreneur. We made our decision and sourced the materials needed for each entrepreneur to start up their business venture.
This marked the end of La Choza Chula’s pilot enterprise training programme which began in January, 2016. The relationships that they have built with one another and with La Choza Chula staff means that there will always be a source of support for them in the future as their business grows and they face different challenges.
We are proud to say that El Paredón will soon boast a new fish restaurant, a “ticuquería” selling local street food, a clothes shop, a clothes repair shop, a beauty salon and a frozen ‘chocofrutas’ shop to offer the community. For the women, it provides a new and independent source of income that will go towards their family’s future. For the community, members will enjoy a richer business landscape that more effectively serves their needs. In the long term, we hope that these entrepreneurs are the trailblazers of the village, setting an example and encouraging others that they too can achieve their entrepreneurial ambitions.
Where one programme ended, another began as La Choza Chula recently began teaching enterprise skills in the secondary school. This was the start of a long-term plan which will eventually see each class taking on responsibility for an individual business on the school site, equipping them with invaluable skills that will serve them well should they choose to go down the entrepreneurial path. Current ideas include growing and selling vegetables, running a pig farm to deal with food waste and managing a furniture repair service. If the creativity that we witnessed in the classroom is anything to go by, there will be plenty more ideas as the new programme materialises!
Written by Eugene Malthouse