Silvia Gonzales just needed someone to reach her community, to look her in the eyes, and speaking to her in a language she understood, to tell that it is possible to have a better life. At her 40 years, her life in the rural community of Tambo (Abancay), like that of many unmarried mothers in the rural parts of Peru, was not easy. With four children, without any help from their fathers, and without her own home, she scraped a living to feed her children, sometimes by breeding hens, guinea pigs and sometimes from the sale of her handwoven textiles. The little she earned was all for her children, especially the three little ones.
One of her main concerns was how to look after her meager savings, which she used to hide carefully under the mattress or in holes that she would make in the adobe walls of her parents’ house, where she lives. Burglars have broken into the house several times and stolen these savings.
One day an officer from Financiera Confianza’s Savings for All program arrived and invited her to a training session. She decided to go and that very day her life changed. She gradually started realizing that formal saving was safer; this enabled her to get herself together and plan her future and she is pleased with it.
“I’ve been saving in Financiera Confianza for a year. Before I used to think that (if I did that) I didn’t have control of my money. Now I know that I do. When I am ill, or when my children are ill, I take money from there. Before, my brothers and sisters used to lend me money which I paid back in installments, but now I don’t have to bother them. I like this bank”, she says.
Silvia is a weaver, making her ponchos, blankets and other products, full of color and artistry, to order and also selling them at fairs. She adds to her income by looking after animals (cows, chickens and guinea pigs) which she feeds and protects from thieves. But her main activity is textiles; not a day goes by without her skillful hands making a garment, and she enjoys it a lot.
Thanks to one of the Savings for All courses, she has learned how to make better use of the products she sells. For example, that if a blanket doesn’t sell, she can re-use it in other craft pieces that she is learning how to make.
“The life I had was a sad one, but now I am getting ahead, fighting on my own, for my children. I weave everything, small articles of clothing, blankets, bedcovers … Whenever I make a sale, I put the money in the bank the same day. On one course I learned that if I save I can buy a machine loom, and that would make the work easier, I could make more things in less time. Now I have the idea of buying the machine and making more progress,” she explains.
Silvia is not the same person she was a year ago. She is a more confident woman, looking after her money, and is hopeful about the future, always with her children in mind. She has learned a lot, and she wants to learn more. She wants to go on more courses and for her neighbors to learn and move forward, just as she is doing.
One of her children studies two weeks a month at a school in Huancarama (Andahuaylas) and spends the other two working on the smallholding with her. Silvia encourages him to save and advises him to use half his money for food, and to save the other half in the bank. “I am happy because he encourages me to save”, she continues.
Another of her dreams is to build a little house to live in and house her older children when they come to stay. She also wants to sell her products abroad, to broaden her market and that way to ensure better education for her children in professional or technical subjects.
“I like this bank, and my friends do too. I have grown, we didn’t have courses before. I am starting to realize that it is better this way and that it will bring us a better life. I am going to carry on saving and when I am older, I can put that money to work, perhaps open a little store, keeping the money safe in the bank. Now there is nothing for the thieves,” she finishes, happily.