Our tag line reads 'alleviating poverty through micro development', and although micro lending is a strong focus for achieving this goal, Andando wants to be open to appying alternative solutions depending on a country's culture, economy and stage in development. In Paraguay, we noted that in many rural communities, the education system is severely lacking in basic resources. Education is a basic building block in alleviating poverty, so Andando has provided some small grants to have introduce lending libraries in three different communities.
Each of these grants allows the school to buy some books which it agrees to lend to the students. These books are checked out, giving the entire family access to the materials. In the past, books were so scarce that students could only use the books while at school.
One of the interesting micro loan projects in Paraguay is a vivero or tree nursery. Two young ladies have started this business with $150 loan. Ground has been cleared, seeds have been planted, and little trees and other ornamentals are sprouting! In less than a year, this crop will be ready for sale. An agreement has already been reached with the local municipality to purchase trees to plant around the nearby town.
The community of Embuscado is famous for it's production of straw hats. A women's cooperative was looking for ways to market their hats further afield. Andando made a buying agreement with these ladies and we are selling their hats along with our artisan goods from Africa. They will shortly be available on our online store. In the first week we had these, we sold over 50 of these hats at a summer festival! They come in many sizes and colors, also children's sizes. Meanwhile you can purchase them directly from us via email . We are also looking for other stores, organizations that may be interested in partnering with this great co-op.
All of these ventures have been made possible through the partnership of several awesome Peace Corps volunteers. Thanks to you all!