What does Lima look like?

28 February 2011 at 21:02 8 comments

I found myself asking that very question shortly after I started working with Microfinanzas Prisma. I arrived in Lima, Peru the end of January for my three month Kiva Fellowship and headed to my hostel in San Isidro, the financial district of Lima. I spent the few days before my fellowship touring the city.

I visited the center of the city and saw the Plaza de Armas.

And went back to take in the view at night.

I visited Miraflores, a district of Lima that is located on the water.

And I of course found some time to visit Barranco, another district of Lima, to go to the beach!

But is this what Lima looks like? Partly. This is what Central Lima looks like.

Lima, the capital of Peru, is nicknamed “El Pulpo” (The Octopus) by some, referring to the sprawling metropolis that is about the size of Rhode Island, has a population rising close to 9 million people, and is home to around a quarter of Peru’s total population. Where do they all live? The city of Lima is further divided into 43 districts. The majority of the districts pertain to Central Lima, but the rest spread into what are the Northern and Southern Cones of Peru. And this, to me, is what Lima also looks like.

Southern Cone of Peru

Northern Cone of Peru

Neighborhoods in the Northern and Southern Cones of Lima have sprung up in the sand and on the sides of mountains. In these new neighborhoods that continue expanding with the arrival of Peruvians moving inward from the outer provinces of Peru, microfinance work is abundant.

A number of services are lacking in these neighborhoods and it is a real opportunity for Prisma clients to get creative with their businesses. Today, I met with a woman who rents washing machines to her neighbors. Maria, started her business two and a half years ago. The laundry service that she used was the only laundry service in her neighborhood, and was extremely far away. Not a practical option for most families, including Maria’s. I couldn’t help but think of basic economics 101 terms my father once went over with me as Maria told her story, such as: supply and demand, market share, and new market opportunities. But Maria doesn’t have an MBA and I doubt she thought of these terms as she planned her business strategy, but she clearly had a handle on the concepts.

Shortly after she had her second child she embarked on this business of renting washing machines by the hour. And she personally transports the machines to her neighbors houses. It’s difficult, she says, but worth the money and stability it provides for her family.

To learn more about other Microfinanzas Prisma clients like Maria, or to receive regular updates from the field like these join “Friends of Microfinanzas Prisma” today!


Entry filed under: blogsherpa, KF14 (Kiva Fellows 14th Class), Microfinanzas PRISMA, Peru.

Update from the Field: Videos, Epic Commutes + Going Beyond Microfinance The Meaning of “Now” in South Africa


  • 1. vidfootie  |  7 September 2011 at 13:20

    What does Lima look like?

  • 2. vidfootie  |  7 September 2011 at 13:19

    I was pretty blown away with her business idea, too! Maria personally transports the washing machines with a dolly cart that she pushes.

  • […] What does Lima look like? […]

  • […] What does Lima look like? […]

  • 5. “No Pasa Nada” « Kiva Stories from the Field  |  10 March 2011 at 13:00

    […] Posts by Noreen Giga: Is it ever too late to follow your dream? What does Lima look […]

  • […] What does Lima look like? Country: Peru / Fellow: Noreen Giga (KF14) Find out why Lima is nicknamed “El Pulpo” (“The Octopus”) and learn about an unusual local business: transporting a washing machine around the neighborhood and renting it by the hour. […]

  • 7. Claudine Emeott  |  1 March 2011 at 02:42

    Fascinating about the laundry business! How does she personally transport them? And why does a permanent laundromat not work?

    • 8. Noreen Giga  |  1 March 2011 at 13:45

      I was pretty blown away with her business idea, too! Maria personally transports the washing machines with a dolly cart that she pushes. I should have taken a photo of that to share. As for why a permanent laundromat doesn’t work, that’s a good question. I have not seen any laundromats in Lima. I have seen laundry services where you can drop off your laundry and then pick it up the next day. If I can find out why laundromats aren’t popular I will let you know!

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