Feliz Navidad and Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! We are so thankful to you all as we reflect on Knowmad’s journey this holiday season. As well as bringing us together with our loved ones, the holidays and another passing year reminds us to look back as well as forward.
It is hard to believe that just two Christmas’s ago Tara and I snapped our holiday photo along the shores of Chile’s Lago Llanquihue and rode our chubby Percheron horse Dora at the dairy farm, Knowmad still yet a vision coming more into focus as travelers trickled in to visit us. And just last year with a new office squarely back in the United States, worrying from afar about our first big wave of holiday travelers exploring Chile and the Patagonia with Knowmad.

Bringing us to the excitement of 2011. We’re humbled to have helped hundreds of explorers discover far-flung corners of Chile, Peru, Argentina and Ecuador. And hopefully in their travels they’ve discovered far-flung corners of themselves as well.

It is because of our travelers that we’re able to make a few loans to help citizens in need better their lives by empowering themselves, in addition to our other philanthropic projects abroad. We encourage you to consider micro-financing during the gift-giving season as well. Scroll down to meet Monica and the good people that, with the support of our travelers, Knowmad is helping finance.

Thanks for everything and we wish all of our friends and fellow Knowmads an incredible holiday, and a year filled with new experiences, growth, reflections, and new horizons.

MONICA MIRELLY COBENA ZAMBRANO: Monica works in a company in the city of Manta and has a business selling all types of clothing. She makes most of her sales from her house, and she also sells at her place of work. She sells on credit, and collects every 15 days. She buys her merchandise in Manta, Guayaquil or Huaquillas, depending on what she needs for her sales. She has been working in this business for 5 years, and it is going well.

She will use this loan to buy more merchandise, such as: pants, blouses, shirts and children’s clothing. She has been a member of her communal bank from the start, and she likes it because the loans have been very helpful to her.

Her dream is to provide the best for her children.

RICARDO CANDELARIO: Ricardo would like to improve his income by better stocking his kiosk where he sells candies, newspapers and soft drinks as this is how he supports himself and his family. Ricardo has two children and also takes care of the children of his partner who had an accident and is in recovery. It was his partner’s sister who, seeing the need and also valuing the sacrifice that Ricardo was making, rented the kiosk which is located in quite a strategic location owing to the large number of people who purchase things from it as they pass by. On days when his eldest son Leo doesn’t have school, Ricardo also works as a builder so that he can further contribute towards his household finances.

Ricardo hopes for his sons to become fine, upstanding young men and so he insists in providing them with a good education and, so far as he can, provides them with everything they need. His eldest son is 16 years old and his second is 12 years old. The little ones are 6 and 4. His eldest son also contributes towards the family as he looks after his young siblings while his father is working. During the loan evaluation, I was able to meet Ricardo’s partner, Patricia, who is recovering from a fall that she suffered. She was receiving medical treatment for more than a year as she was found unconscious. Now, however, her recovery process is completely favorable.

EDA EVELING: Eda lives and works in Ica, Peru. Ica is located in the Sechura Desert about four hours south of Lima, the country’s capital, and is hailed by Peruvians as “The Land of the Sun.” It is known in Peru for its frequent earthquakes (an 8.4 in 2001 and 8.0 in 2007), its production of grapes, asparagus, and olives, and perhaps most notably, as the source of Peruvian’s traditional national drink, Pisco.

Eda is 29 years old , married, and has two young children. She sells clothing, which generates income and has proven to be profitable. She is a go-getter, persistent and responsible with a lot of desire to get her family ahead.
She started her business in 2008 and is making about 440 soles (about $160 USD) a week. She works 10 hours per day, 7 days per week. With this loan of 3000 ($1,100 USD) new soles that she will receive thanks to Knowmad and others, she will buy merchandise in volume and increase her margins.

Her dream is to have her own stand and to expand to a national level so that she can increase her income and finish building her house, this way achieving a better way of life. Her adviser believes that she is an excellent client and that she will pay her installments promptly.

For more information on any of these people or others in need of micro-loans to help them  improve their businesses and lives, please visit our friends at Kiva.