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.
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