What We Do
Our mission in the Economic Development Department (EcoDev) is to help the families of SKIP achieve a higher level of wellbeing through independent business initiatives. We help SKIP families create sustainable sources of income and we provide them with opportunities to develop their artisan and business skills to pursue their goals. Our current project portfolio includes a micro-credit program that supplies small loans and business consulting to current or potential business owners, savings programs, business education workshops, artisan workshops (including jewelry making, sewing, and weaving), and health related loan programs. We believe that with hard work and a hand up these families can help themselves out of poverty.
The business loans we offer start at 50 to 100 Soles (approximately $18 to $35 USD) and, depending on an internally developed credit rating, can reach 300 Soles (approximately $110 USD). We charge a simple monthly interest rate of 1% which is low enough to be manageable for the families, but high enough to raise awareness of the typical procedures involved in a loan process. Also, in January 2010, we introduced a monetary penalty for families that neither pay on time nor visit the EcoDev office to explain their situation. Again, we are mirroring bank-lending procedures to provide more than just funding to SKIP families, but also education about the responsibility and accountability of borrowing. Many of our El Porvenir borrowers apply their microloans to small bodegas (grocery stores), independent artisan crafts, animal raising, cobbling and many other businesses. These families work directly from their homes and need only modest assistance to improve quality or increase inventory volume, thus increasing profits. Watch the SKIP Movie to learn about two of our borrowers, Marisol and William, who used their microloan to start a recycling business. This past year, the EcoDev department experienced unprecedented growth. We reached almost twice as many families and trip led the amount of funds circulating through El Porvenir (S/. 9,980.50, approximately $3,660 USD). Meanwhile, we maintained the highest repayment rate in our short history (96%). Looking forward, we see room for growth in both our services and number of families supported. We are confident that the program will continue to expand and strengthen in 2010.
CASE STORY - Read about how SKIP has helped Juana Paredes develop her business and improve the economic stability of her family
EcoDev emphasizes the importance of saving to financially protect the business and health of our families. Without preparing and planning for the future, the families of El Porvenir remain vulnerable. For all loans, we require that the weekly payment include obligatory savings to introduce important habits. At the closure of the loan, we encourage the savings portion be deposited into an interest-bearing bank account with an accredited Peruvian bank or reinvested in their business. Borrowers are frequently impressed with the savings they accumulated over the term of the loan! The EcoDev team facilitates the relationship with local banks to provide the families with secure savings options.
The EcoDev team regularly organizes business workshops aimed at SKIP members who would like to develop or start a business. The workshops are tailored to the needs of the businesses in El Porvenir and include bookkeeping, savings, and inventory management. In March 2010, SKIP launched a new series of business education workshops with more interactive participation and one on one consulting.
Production Workshops - Talleres
In these workshops, knowledgeable mothers of SKIP train other mothers to develop skills in jewelry making, sewing, crochet and macramé. The raw materials for these workshops are purchased directly from the local market by the mothers participating in the program. The EcoDev Team aids in coordination of local and international sales for the mothers, while also instilling practical business skills to empower the mothers to work towards functioning more independently. All the textile products offered through the SKIP Shop are hand-made and the result of the work and dedication of these mothers. Please see the SKIP Shop for our catalog!
Health Related Programmes
The EcoDev team works in conjunction with SKIP’s Social Work Department to identify solutions to the most immediate health-related issues in the community. Currently, our focus is educating families of SKIP who cook their meals using wood or charcoal briquets, which emit toxic fumes inside the home. Cooking with these fuels without proper ventilation equates to smoking 40 cigarettes a day and is responsible for an annual death rate of 1.5 million people worldwide. To enable families to improve their health, SKIP has developed the “Cocina a Gas” program. Using our microloan programme, families can affordably purchase a gas stove at a discounted group rate and pay weekly over six months.
The aim of the Economic Development (EcoDev) department at SKIP is to improve and stabilise the economic situation of the families in the programme. Some of our projects have included sanitary funds, improvements to kitchens, artisan workshops, sewing workshops, weaving workshops, sales of products for mothers, mentoring, literacy and educational conferences. We also have a micro-loans project that helps increase the family income and aids the development of money management skills.
If you are interested in a position in the Economic Development Team, please go to positions available.