Luisa is a 33-year old mother of two young children from Ixmilquilpan, Mexico. It is a region known for its rich indigenous community where artisans create products using ixtle, a fiber from the maguey plant. Intermediaries typically purchase these products at low prices and then resell them for a higher price – leaving those that work the hardest with the smallest amount of the profits.
An initial loan of US$168 allowed Luisa to start her own ixtle business, where she makes jewelry, bath kits and purses, among other items, that also incorporate recycled and/or biodegradable materials. Today, Luisa sells her products directly to the public and employs a total of 13 people to help her run her three small businesses – a convenience store, an ixtle store and a roadside cafe.
In her village of 1,200 inhabitants where women have few rights and even fewer opportunities for employment, Luisa is also bringing together a group of 31 women artisans to continue the production, sale and distribution of her bath kits. She secured 6,400 square feetof donated land from her community and with the financial support of companies like Ernst & Young and Banamex, Luisa is overseeing the construction of a small building that will house an ixtle workshop for her and the women from her community.
“We currently serve more than 220,000 clients in Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru,” says Pro Mujer’s CEO Rosario Pérez. “Each of them has a story to tell – stories filled with trials and tribulations but also happiness and success. Luisa embodies the transformative power of combining microfinance with essential health and human development services.”