Faith in Oneself; Faith in Friends
I wanted to share one of many inspirational success stories we've seen in women's initiatives in Agros villages:
The Pollos de Engorde chicken farm, today led by Juanita Morales, is an example of an initiative that had to overcome many obstacles, but ultimately persevered due to one woman's determination and anothers faith in her.
The farm was an idea originally formed by three women who had not previously undertaken an initiative of this scale before. With economic initiative training and guidance from Agros staff, two weeks of development ensured, loans secured and infrastructure materials purchased. Not long after, several of the women informed Juanita that they would have to pull out of the initiative all together to focus on other family priorities. Further complicating things was that then meant the only available land in the community that could accommodate the needs of the project was land belonging to another woman, Doña Antonia Arriaga.
Juanita was in a precarious place as, by default, she had then assumed all the cost and risk of purchasing the chickens and the rest of the materials necessary for caring for the birds (including the requisite vitamins, vaccines, and antibiotics for 150+ birds). Doña Antonia Arriaga met with her friend and discussed her business plan. She came out of that meeting believing wholeheartedly in her friend, her work ethic, and wanted to help her realize that dream for herself and her family. She decided to forgo her plans to cultivate that particular piece of land, and give Juanita and her family the opportunity to continue development of the project on her land.
During the next eight weeks she tirelessly cared for the chicks (as their growth can be precarious due to external elements such as cold, predators, etc.), fattening the birds and attending to the hens and the hen house - all while managing the responsibilities of her family and their shared responsibility to harvest communal crops, as well as serve as President of the community.
As the chickens neared maturity, she began to actively market the chickens to her immediate and neighboring communities, selling them by the pound or whole, whatever her clients preferred. The chickens were of good quality, and her attitude so positive, that she built a loyal and repeat following for her product.
Having quickly sold all the original chicks, she received enough profit to not only reinvest in a second brood, but also has contributed US$100 to her family's savings. She is proud to be a positive example for other women to follow - and several of the women who had to initially back out of the project are now working with Juanita to learn just how they can build and manage their respective businesses anew.