“Nuestra Capital Semilla” (Our Seed Money)

28 October 2009 at 09:10 20 comments

By Sheethal Shobowale, KF9, Peru

My first loan disbursement outside of the Asociación Arariwa office took place in San Sebastian, an area of Cusco about 15 minutes away from the office.

This group meeting was my ideal picture of group microfinance.  Banco Comunal de Maria Auxiliadora is a group of 11 low-income women from Cusco, engaged all all different types of businesses, from cosmetic and grocery sales to artesanía.  They had failed to make their repayments on time in their last loan cycle but this time, Valentina, their loan officer was determined for them to succeed.

The Meeting

As we entered the small shop where the meeting was held, we saluted each woman with a buenas tardes (good afternoon) and a customary kiss on the cheek. Rocio (another loan officer) and I posted the meeting agenda on the wall.  Valentina introduced me to the group and I said a few words about Kiva and myself.  The women applauded for me (it felt so good 🙂  We started with a short prayer by the group president followed by the Peruvian national anthem (Here’s a link to the Peruvian National anthem).  Then the group president spoke a few words of encouragement.

Next Valentina took the stage. She explained the importance of being responsible and careful with their funds.  Poetically she compared “nuestra capital semilla” (our seed money) that Arariwa will give them to help grow their businesses with the seeds we plant to grow food. With a ton of enthusiasm, Valentina bestowed positivity, confidence and encouragement on the women and welcomed them to the Arariwa family.  Each woman signed their loan documents and created guarantor groups (Arariwa’s loan model stipulates that the borrowers guarantee each other’s loans in groups of three).   The president and treasurer of the group verified and counted the money and disbursed the funds. Valentina dictated the monthly payment dates and the amounts they would have to pay.

Opening a new communal bank is a special event and the formal group meeting instills confidence in the group loan model for each member.

A Celebration of Women and Nuestra Capital Semilla

With the money business over, we celebrated with a toast of sweet Peruvian wine. (Imagine drinking with your loan officer?) It was also Yegenia’s (one of the members) birthday so we sang happy birthday to her in both Spanish and English and each woman gave her a hug. We then ate an enormous plate of food consisting of beef, potatoes and stuffed peppers prepared by the several of the group members.  It was an experience I will never forget.

On only my second day at Arariwa, I saw my ideal of group microfinance. Who could ask for anything more than a group of women led by women and supporting each other financially and emotionally?  I truly hope they succeed.

Watch Banco Comunal Maria Auxiliadora’s progress on the Kiva website and consider loaning to other Kiva women.

Sheethal Shobowale is currently serving as a Kiva Fellow with Asociación Arariwa in Cusco, Peru.  Follow Sheethal on Twitter to get more real-time updates from Cusco!

“Mi Mundo” courtesy of Sylvia Replay through the Creative Commons license.

Entry filed under: Asociación Arariwa, KF9 (Kiva Fellows 9th Class), Peru. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

No More Genocide getting there


  • […] group members can support each other with business advice and help with personal issues. How about a group of women supporting each other?  More than 70% of Arariwa’s clients are women and 60% of the members of communal banks at […]

  • 2. lethalsheethal  |  20 November 2009 at 16:01

    Gracias a todos Uds. por preguntarme de Kiva y de microfinanzas. Era un placer conversar con Uds. Espero que nos hablemos otra vez, tal vez de Bolivia en el año nuevo!


  • 3. Evan  |  20 November 2009 at 09:38

    Thank you very much for speaking to my class yesterday. I found it very fascinating to learn about how the entrepreneurs use their loans to build their businesses. It has really helped me build an appreciation for the work we have been doing with Kiva in class. Enjoy your time in Cusco!

  • 4. Eli  |  20 November 2009 at 05:38

    Thank you for speaking to our class yesterday. It was very informative, and I was very intrigued by the whole program. It was great being able to learn about Spanish and culture through Kiva and through our conversation yesterday. I hope that the rest of your time in Cusco is interesting and rewarding, as it seems it has been up to this point.
    Thanks again,

  • 5. Christian  |  19 November 2009 at 18:25

    Hola Sheethal,
    Thank you for spending time with our class today and sharing your experience in microfinance with us. I think that capitalism is the best way to eliminate poverty. I’m glad that our class could be part of that through Kiva. Hope to Skype with you again soon!

  • 6. Paige  |  19 November 2009 at 18:16

    Sheethal thank you so much for talking to our class today!!! It was so interesting learning about how Kiva picks who they give their loans to. Good Luck with your work in Peru!
    – Paige

    Muchas gracias por hablar con mi clase hoy!! Era muy intersante para aprender como Kiva escoger las personas para los prestamos. Buena Suerte con su trabaja en Peru!!!

  • 7. Colin  |  19 November 2009 at 15:36

    ¡Hola Sheethal! MUCHAS gracias por hablar a mi clase sobre tu experiencia con Kiva. ¡Me fascina! Mi familia y yo fuimos a Perú y Cuzco, por tanto yo sé como importante (y difícil) tu trabajo es. Debe ser un desafió (pero diversión) trabajar en Perú con los empresarios, y yo aprecio qué tú estás haciendo.

  • 8. Chris  |  19 November 2009 at 15:12

    Thank you for speaking to our class today about your experience with Kiva. I was truly interested and inspired when I heard all the ways you help people through microfinance. It was splendid talking to you in class, and good luck with Kiva and all of your work.

    Thank You,

  • 9. Spencer  |  19 November 2009 at 15:00

    Sheethal, thank you for speaking with our class about Kiva and micro-financing. It was really interesting to hear a firsthand experience about Kiva and what goes on in order to make each investment. Good luck with all of your work, and maybe we will be able to communicate in a few more months to see the improvements!
    Thanks again,

  • 10. Charlotte (Carlota)  |  19 November 2009 at 14:45

    ¡Gracias por hablar a nuestra clase de hoy sobre de su experiencia con Kiva! Me gustó y estaba interesado en su trabajo anterior y el fondo antes de llegar a voluntarios con Kiva. Además, tengo otra pregunta. ¿Cuál ha sido la parte más difícil de ser un compañero de Kiva?

    ~Charlotte (Carlota)

  • 11. Lauren  |  19 November 2009 at 14:12

    Sheethal, thanks for speaking with my class today about Kiva. Its really interesting to hear all the wonderful ways that you can help people through microfinance.
    Thanks again!

  • 12. Lily  |  19 November 2009 at 13:37

    Sheethal, thank you so much for speaking with my class today about Kiva and your experiences with micro-financing. It was so interesting to hear about all the different things you are doing to help the people of Peru! Thanks for everything and maybe we’ll Skype again!
    Thanks Again,

  • 13. Charlotte  |  19 November 2009 at 10:18

    Sheethal, thank you so much for talking to our class! It was so interesting to learn about micro-finance and your specific part in Kiva. It was fascinating to hear what you had to say and to meet Borris. Thanks for all that you do!
    Keep me updated on the progress of these women.
    Thanks again,

  • 14. Pushpa Rao  |  3 November 2009 at 10:30

    Great job Sheethal! Good luck with the rest of the work in Peru.

  • 15. Gemma  |  1 November 2009 at 17:34

    Sounds and looks like it was a great experience Sheethal, hopefully you will get to visit them again and see their progress.

  • 16. Lauren  |  1 November 2009 at 07:51

    I love the video! I know very little about microfinance, and this made it accessible and personal. Very exciting and inspirational work. Nice feeling to connect with this group of women briefly even from afar, and to wish them success too. Thanks Sheethal!

  • 17. Jessica  |  30 October 2009 at 12:22

    Nice! It’s great to get a true sense of how it all works and what a real impact you are having.

    PS, loved the music 🙂

  • 18. lethalsheethal  |  29 October 2009 at 14:28

    Thanks for the comments! Every meeting is special in its own way 😉 but this one, especially since it was my first, really struck a chord.

  • 19. Jan & John, KivaFriends  |  28 October 2009 at 15:57

    seed money for a more bountiful future… thanks, jan

  • 20. Matthew  |  28 October 2009 at 12:13

    Wonderful journal entry Sheethal. Both you and Victoria are representing New York!

    I really enjoyed your first entry, as well.

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