In the Peruvian city of Huancayo, PRISMA microfinance clients clearly are urban entrepreneurs. Two have located their small businesses in a downtown mini-mall. Ana Pomasonco is a photographer who keeps a small studio there. She specializes in passport photos. Ana’s PRISMA loan allowed her to purchase a printer, so that she could print her own photos. Now she hopes to open another business selling cellphones and accessories, with the help of her daughter who is studying business administration in Lima.
Guillermina Mauricio is positioned in the hallway outside Ana’s studio. Guillermina sells cheese and meat from a small cart, and she also rents entry to the two bathrooms in the mall. Both women have been able to save money and have succeeded in providing higher education for their older children—nursing and chemical engineering, in addition to business administration.
A newcomer to the city is Gloria Gomez, who sews flowers for traditional skirts. Gloria used to live two and one-half hours away in an area made dangerous by terrorism. She moved to Huancayo three years ago, and is saving to buy a house. When asked how she had used her PRISMA loans to improve her life, Gloria answered simply, “I moved.” For many PRISMA clients, living in a safe place and, ultimately, owning a home, is a major goal.
Urban areas like Huancayo have lower poverty rates than rural areas in Peru. PRISMA’s 2009 PPI survey of clients in Huancayo revealed that 22.66 percent of all clients were likely to be below the national poverty line, and 34.66 percent of new clients were likely to be below the poverty line. PRISMA will conduct its 2010 survey within weeks, and for the first time, the survey will track progress by measuring the poverty of the new clients from 2009.
Pat Kelly is Senior Communications Officer at the Grameen Foundation Social Performance Management Center (SPMC). She is based in Washington, DC.