Mostly on this blog when I write about work I write about teaching. And it takes up most of my work-time. However, I would like to do more of other Volunteer activities, and in fact I do do some.
First, we have my Pulpepreneurs, or Pulpería Entrepreneurs. A pulpería is a street corner convenience store. In NY we would call it a bodega. They are a dime a dozen here. I met my pulpepreneurs, husband and wife Henry and Marina, a few months after they opened the shop through a local micro-finance NGO that I work with. They were having some rough times. They had just had their first baby, and some extended hospital stays forced them to close the shop and rack up some hospital bills (little John Henry and Marina are 100% healthy now). So the first step was helping them generate revenue to retire debt. I gave them 10 suggestions. I will try to re-create them here, since I don’t have my sheet with the recommendations anymore:
- Put up a sign
- Sell vegetables
- Sell bread and cheese
- Make home deliveries
- Promotions with high margin items
- During low times of the day go around with a cart in the street house to house offering products
- Make a frequent customer card
And I can’t seem to remember 8, 9, and 10.
Some time after I had delivered and discussed the suggestions I went back and visited. But they were closed, which was very odd. Unfortunately, on the rainiest night of the year here in León there was a flash flood on their side of town and their home (which houses the business) was completely inundated. All they recovered was a packet of soy oil. Everything else was washed out of the house. Marina was just happy that her little son and two nephews were not also washed out of the house.
Luckily, my pulpepreneurs are pretty optimistic folks and they have already re-opened the store with some money that they earned from a second job that Henry picked up. And they are already talking about starting a chicken farm to sell eggs and meat. I’m excited about that project and will be working with them as long as they remain happy to accept my advice.
In addition to the pulpepreneurs I have the Cooperative. The Cooperative, formally known as Cooperative Las Pilas-El Hoyo, is a partnership made up of ten members that manages the vastly popular Cerro Negro volcano boarding tourist destination. They have enormous unrealized potential, and I hope to help them realize it.
For instance, they were not doing a good job promoting the food that they sell at the volcano. So I helped them make a menu with their daily offerings. At the end of the day the chef said it was one of the busiest days for food that she can remember. It is little things like menus that we are working on now, but hopefully one day I can help them generate more income by offering more services and opening up their eco-lodge, which has top notch views of the volcanic range.
Those are my two most active projects, other than working in the schools, which is pretty much wrapped up, since the school year is weeks away from ending.