She Fights Poverty: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs for Growth

With more equitable access to resources and information, enterprising women like Ayli Quinteros are lifting themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty.

This is the first post in our month-long #SheFightsPoverty blog series in honor of International Women’s Day 2016.

Women working representing #SheFightsPoverty

In many developing countries, women face tremendous barriers to success. They have limited access to the land, finance and information they need to grow their farms and businesses, and they are disproportionately affected by poverty, violence and discrimination. By providing the tools, resources and connections they need, TechnoServe is empowering women like Ayli Quinteros to overcome these challenges and become successful entrepreneurs.

This International Women’s Day, join forces with your family and friends to help provide a woman entrepreneur the training she needs to grow her business and lift her family out of poverty.

With training, women like Ayli are developing the necessary skills to transform their communities.

Ayli and the twelve other members of Mishky Cacao have worked hard to transform their small community of Chazuta in the San Martín region of Peru. The farms around the community were dedicated to growing coca leaves, the raw product used in the production of cocaine. Coca production provided income for the community, but at the expense of the violence that came with it.

Peruvian artisanal chocolate makers

The men value and respect the women now because we are contributing to the household income, and the women have more opportunities to participate.”
– Ayli Quinteros, Leader, Mishky Cacao

With support from the Economic Development Alliance, the community began to start planting cocoa plants instead of coca. However, the profits on cocoa remained lower than what they had previously been earning with coca. Despite knowing little about cocoa processing or  running a business, Ayli and other women from the community hoped they could generate more value from the cocoa harvest by producing their own chocolate. Mishky Cacao was born.

TechnoServe began working with the twelve members of Mishky Cacao to improve their production and marketing in 2012 through the Economic Development Alliance project in partnership with U.S. Agency for International Development, the Government of Peru, the PIMCO Foundation, and other private and public sector supporters. The artisanal chocolate business has grown from just an idea to a profitable business earning more than $31,000 in revenue last year. It has also garnered industry-wide attention, winning a merit award for sustainability at the International Chocolate Awards in 2014.

Women of Mishky Cacao showcasing finished cocoa products

The community of Chazuta is seeing the benefits of the women’s work as well. The group is now focused on expanding and are building a new processing facility with investment from the regional government, which will bring additional jobs to the community. Ayli’s family members have also adopted her entrepreneurial spirit: her husband sells the family’s extra cocoa beans and her son started a youth group that markets jams and handicrafts.

Providing women with training on business management, cocoa processing and better marketing has helped this small cooperative bring big change to their community. Not only has the violence, which surrounded the community during its years of coca production, dissipated, but women are gaining a larger role in the economic success of the community. “The men value and respect the women now because we are contributing to the household income, and the women have more opportunities to participate,” says Ayli.

Ayli and the women of Mishky Cacao are an example of how with training women can boost their income, working to lift their families and communities out of poverty.

Help more women like Ayli access the training they need to succeed.