By Shereef Zaki, KF9, Perú
One of my first posts was titled ‘recession proof’’ in which I described the resilience of micro-businesses and the integrity of micro-lending. This time around, I want to detail a theme I had only painted with large brushstrokes.
Although EDPYME Alternativa’s borrowers are scattered throughout the region, I live in Chiclayo and it has become the backdrop and the context of my life. To me, one of the most fascinating parts of this small city is the dearth of big box stores. In their absence exists a constant buzz of small-scale commerce.
Let me describe this vibrant economic landscape. In the center of the city, around the main plaza, there is a mixture of restaurants and shops devoted to clothing and electronics (especially cell phones). As one ventures further from the center, the streets become organized by economic themes.
Although that string of stores on Cuglievan is far less efficient than Home Depot, it encourages competition, diversity of selection and keeps more people employed. One of the strangest paradoxes of a modern economy is the contradiction of scale: with efficiency at a large scale less people can do more. Progress becomes self-defeating if people do not have the jobs and incomes to keep on buying from the big box stores!
The hectic flow of social and economic interactions in Chiclayo keeps people interacting with one another, asking for advice and building a community. And on a personal level, it is way more fun to walk through high energy markets and themed streets asking where to find that one little thing than to navigate down the well-marked aisle 3.
*King Kong is the most rich dessert imaginable: a layer of thick caramel, a layer of candied fruit preserves (generally pineapple) and a layer of cake – cut into rectangles, circles or squares
Shereef Zaki is serving as a Kiva Fellow working with the new field partner EDPYME Alternativa in Chiclayo, Perú
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