I am convinced the word “grind” originated in Peru. Everyday millions of Peruvians wake up and do work to “sacar las lucas” any way possible. Men shine shoes in the plaza, women sell arroz con leche or tamales on the street corners, and children sing or sell candy in the restaurants. What do you know this type of work has a name, Income Generating Activities!
Since January my work life has revolved around this theme of IGAs. I was chosen to be a member of the IGA committee along with three other amazing volunteers. Together we were in charge of completing a Peace Corps Peru IGA manual, and then training 20 volunteers and their socios on how they can use the resources to train women in their communities.
First stop on our IGA journey was the town of Moche, La Libertad. Adrienne, the business volunteer who lives there, planned a month long workshop for women in one of the caserios. She worked with the municipality and government programs to reach out to interested women and at the end of the day she had a solid group of 5-8 women each week. The group was so successful that they have now expanded the course to include “manualidades” like jewelry making, glass cutting, hair styling and other possible activities the women could do to make a little extra income.
We, the IGA committee, were guests during session two. We taught the women how to figure out household expenses, needs verses wants and how those differ from person to person, and the idea that an IGA should be a low risk source of additional income that could help contribute to the household expenses.
The women had great ideas and it was a lot of fun! My favorite part was playing the ice-breaker “Never Have I Ever…” and watching everyone laugh a little.
Even though the session was only a few hours, the women and the municipality were so grateful for our visit. The mayor even popped in to say hi and take a few photos!
After our trial run in Moche we got to work making a million and one changes to the manual and after a few weeks of hard work from everyone, we finished!!
With a complete manual in hand I headed to a different coastal town called, Motupe, Lambayeque for an Income Generating Activities Weekend Workshop for Women with Reesy. (Wow, that´s a mouth full!)
It was an eye-opening climate change… Motupe reminds me of Houston in August, extremely hot and humid. The only difference, there is NO A/C anywhere. All my Houstonians please take that in for just a minute. It was SO hot! (Props to all the coastal volunteers. I am not sure how ya´ll do it!)
Reesy´s host family opened their home and treated me like another member of the family! We planned all of our sessions around their kitchen table and helped with meal prep. (For those of you who know me you obviously know me “helping with meal prep” means I played with the kids on the kitchen floor while the grown-ups used the sharp knives lol.)
Her family also has farm land just outside of town and they were nice enough to let us collect fresh mangos!
When it came time for the workshop, about a third of the women were actually her family members! Talk about integrating with a host family. You go Reesy!
The workshop was three hours on Saturday and three hours on Sunday, and we had a great turn out each day. I don´t know many people who would give up a weekend to listen to two gringas talk about basic business ideas, so as you can imagine we were working with a very passionate group of women!
We talked about everything from what it means to be a women entrepreneur in a developing country, to market studies, to consumer demand, to how to find your costs and figure out pricing of your product or service. The women came up with their own ideas and at the end of the two day workshop left with a basic business plan and the motivation to start their own IGA.
Motupe is known for a cross that brings miracles to the people, so it is a popular tourist activity to climb the mountain to bring a little gift to the cross. The entire trek up to the cross is lined with artisans selling religious jewelry etc. and the women talked a lot about the potential to bring new products to the artisan market there.
They also latched on to the concept of being role models and empowering the women around them, which was so exciting to hear! Peru is going through a crucial change nationally in regards to gender equality and women´s rights, which makes our work in IGAs for women that much more important.
Stay tuned for the next blog post on our IGA training with the CED Volunteers of Peru 25!