When is a Fridge Not a Fridge?
For most of us, a fridge is our Tupperware hotel, snack box, beverage chiller, and sometimes accidental petri dish. It's as common as walls, floors and ceilings. Try to remember the last time you were in a house that didn’t have a fridge.
For Haydee Martinez, a fridge is vehicle for growth. It's a sustainable cure for poverty. It's a source of not just income, but of pride and self-worth. It's the cornerstone of her new business: the Naranjal Pulperia (think bodega or small corner store). And it's something she had to earn.
It's also another story of cacao's far reaching impact. Haydee started her business with a small loan from the community's cacao revenue fund. With that money, she purchased a bundle of clothing from a wholesaler. She sorted the clothes by quality and price, and then sold them one by one.
She repaid the loan with proceeds from the first bundle of clothes. Using the balance of her profits she bought another bundle, sorted and sold it. She saved half the money she made and used the other half to buy yet another bundle. After selling that, she finally had enough money to buy the most important piece of equipment for her business: the fridge.
Now her store is stocked with rice, flour and other staples, as well as fresh meat, juices, snacks and her specialty: homemade chocolate covered bananas (made with enliven cacao of course). Kids enjoy a fast after-school snack, and local families have turned a one hour hike for food to a five minute stroll.
In a sense, Haydee has completed the circle of cacao. The sale of cacao funded her loan, which paid for the clothes, which paid for the fridge, which holds the food that feeds cacao farmers, which allows them to produce more cacao.
Cacao may have provided the funds that brought electricity to power the fridge, but it was Haydee's hard work and ingenuity that turned an opportunity into a means of supporting her family and another step toward curing poverty.