Three Nicaraguans Companies Succeed Amid Financial Catastrophe

Three small enterprise house owners in Managua, Masaya and Catarina inform how they’ve managed to keep up their companies amid Nicaragua’s financial disaster.

By Ivan Olivares (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Buffeted by an financial disaster that has continued in Nicaragua for the final 4 years, the nation’s small enterprise house owners should carry out feats of acrobatics to keep up their presence out there and keep away from having to put off staff. In the meantime, the excessive taxes of the Ortega regime, which seeks to extend the State coffers at any value, are tantamount to extorsion. Nonetheless, some corporations have managed to achieve success, though they continue to be exceptions to the rule.

Hansell Maltez runs a mechanics store in Managua the place they restore bikes and promote spare components. Sofia Guererro, from Catarina, sells furnishings and decorative vegetation to patrons throughout the nation. Azalia Garcia can also be getting forward along with her gross sales of charcoal, firewood, eggs, kerosene and lottery tickets in Masaya. Under, we provide a portrait of those three small enterprise house owners, who’ve maintained their momentum regardless of the disaster. All three run stable, small corporations that not solely are profiting sufficient to pay their staff’ salaries, but additionally are persevering with to develop.

Emanuel Moto-Repairs

A yr in the past, Hansell Maltez administered a thriving enterprise, combining a bike restore store with the gross sales of spare components. He confessed, nonetheless, that – as a precaution – he has at present suspended plans for importing the spare components himself.

What hasn’t slowed, nonetheless, is the thought of importing used tires for his clients’ bikes. A yr after he started this undertaking, he summed up: “I had a proposal to usher in used tires. We gave it our greatest, and we have been in a position to make a go of it with the assist of “Fundeser”, a credit score company specializing in loans to small producers and micro companies.

Maltez recalled among the steps alongside the way in which: “We made the calculations, bought the numbers and analyzed the market. We noticed that nobody was bringing in used motorbike tires. So we positioned a provider in Europe, and I traveled to Spain to satisfy with him.

Hansell Maltez, proprietor of a bike workshop and spare components salesroom in Managua. Photograph: Confidencial archives

On account of these negotiations, “I introduced in a container with 5,000 used tires for bikes, together with manufacturers like Dunlop, Pirelli, Michelin, Bridgestone and Metzeler. We’re at present promoting these on Fb, in addition to instantly in our store.”

By the use of instance, he talked about {that a} new Michelin tire for a messenger bike (probably the most primary) prices 3,000 cordobas [about US $83], whereas he sells a used tire of the identical model, with 90% of its helpful life left, for 1300 cordobas. [US $36].

“The market has obtained us very nicely, though I believe a variety of clients don’t learn about us,” he famous. Regardless, “mouth to mouth publicity has been key to our development.” That’s very true since the price of the alternative components he sells has elevated by 40% and much more, because of the rise in the price of maritime transport.

“Earlier than the [global logistics] disaster, a cargo coming from Europe value 8,000 Euros [US $7,924]. Now it prices 11,000 Euros [US $10,896]. The rise is supposedly because of the elevated value of gas, logistics, the shortage of containers,” he specified, including that “the value of bike oil is rising month by month, however I imagine that’s due to the greed of the native corporations.”

Hansell Maltez’ efforts have allowed him to proceed working two Managua locales. He instructed us that typically the principal website is hard-put to take care of some twenty or extra purchasers every day, who take their bikes to be repaired. Some are on the lookout for advanced repairs, akin to an overhaul, whereas different repairs are easy, like checking the brakes, altering the oil, or simply performing routine upkeep.

Technically, the expansion of his enterprise isn’t “regardless of the disaster”, however somewhat “because of the disaster”. The financial pinch has compelled many to desert their dream of shopping for a automotive and substitute that of buying a bike. Others see this sort of car as an choice to make a dwelling and get across the unemployment.

Maltez plans to move again to Europe in the direction of the tip of September this yr, in search of a option to broaden the used tire enterprise. In a single or two years, he hopes to cease shopping for spare components from a neighborhood supplier and start to import them himself.

Her kids now promote the vegetation

Sofia Guerrero, based mostly in Catarina, sells furnishings and decorative vegetation throughout Nicaragua. Photograph: Confidencial archives

When Sofia Guerrero, now 58, was solely a bit woman of six, she’d rise up at one within the morning to journey from Catarina to Chinandega along with her mom and promote vegetation. 5 many years later, Sofia now sends her personal daughters over even better distances to promote vegetation, plus furnishings and handicrafts.

The distinction is that now they journey within the truck she was in a position to buy with the earnings from her enterprise, and with loans from the FDL microfinance establishment, that provides loans for work and for house enhancements.

“The enterprise continues, however now it’s in my daughter’s arms. She’s liable for the longer journeys, so I don’t get too drained. I do the administration from house:  I watch how gross sales are going, and what we are able to do to develop. I solely accompany her once we go to Managua for enterprise transactions,” Guerrero defined.

Hers is actually a household enterprise. All of her kids are concerned, together with one who has simply graduated in crucial care, and his spouse who’s an OB/GYN physician. Each promote furnishings on line, “they don’t put on themselves out like earlier than, after I’d exit with the basket [of plants]. Now, they do it by way of Fb,” she mentioned, evaluating the 2 eras.

When she would go along with her mom to Chinandega as a toddler, she might solely carry a couple of vegetation within the basket [usually carried on the vendor’s head]. Right this moment, her daughter takes furnishings, handicrafts, fruit… “a bit of the whole lot, to have the ability to pay for gasoline, upkeep of the truck, and their meals.”

On the return journey, they bring about coconut shoots, fish and shrimp from Bilwi; farmer’s cheese from Juigalpa; corn or child corn from Jalapa; dried coconut from El Rama, and so on. to promote within the Pacific area. “We’re at all times on the lookout for a option to enhance what we deliver or take, so our books will steadiness,” Sofia commented.

The medium-term purpose is to economize and put it along with what they’ll get from the sale of their present truck, to allow them to purchase one other. “I wish to exchange it with one from this yr,” she asserted. Then, they wish to develop their rental home based business. These plans embrace constructing one other home, so as to enhance the supply of areas they hire out.

Firewood, charcoal, lottery tickets, eggs, kerosene. “What can I give you?”

Azalia Garcia sells charcoal, firewood, eggs, kerosene and lottery tickets in Masaya. Photograph: Confidencial archives.

Promoting firwood or charcoal doesn’t appear a really glamorous enterprise, till you have a look at the dimensions of the operation that Azalia Garcia manages in Masaya. On this enterprise, she will simply have a list price 100,000 cordobas [US $2,772].

A yr in the past, whereas awaiting the beginning of her daughter, Azalia was promoting firwood, charcoal, eggs (wholesale and retail) and lottery tickets, plus guarding the bikes of these going to the market, which is true in entrance of her home. Right this moment, one yr later, she, her daughter-in-law and her older daughter take turns caring for little Gabriela Alejandra whereas managing all elements of the enterprise.

Proper now, charcoal instructions a really excessive value, because of the wet season: 100 sacks goes for the 16,000 cordobas [US $444], when just some months in the past they value from US $227 – $305. Compared, at Christmas, the value can go as excessive as 20,000 cordobas [US $555]. Nonetheless, the gross sales are regular, as a result of “individuals want it for cooking.” That is additionally typically true for the sale of firewood and kerosene.

Their subsequent largest supply of revenue comes from their “car parking zone”, and from safeguarding bikes. That is nonetheless functioning, however has been considerably affected by the police operations eliminating unlicensed bikes from the highway. Lastly, having made the leap to being a wholesale Lotto vender, she now employs her oldest son on this.

Azalia additionally hasn’t given up promoting eggs, as a result of they’re a primary meals merchandise and consumed consistently. The issue with that is that the eggs don’t yield a lot revenue: she buys a carton for 120 cordobas and sells it for 140, producing solely the equal of US 55 cents every carton. Nevertheless, that’s additionally the explanation that individuals proceed shopping for them.

Her newest undertaking was made potential by one other mortgage licensed by the Financiera FDL microfinance establishment. The small mortgage allowed her to buy a freezer to promote Massive Cola merchandise.

Nowadays, “cash doesn’t stretch”, so the shopper who beforehand purchased 20 luggage of charcoal, now will buy solely 15; the client that used to purchase 100, now buys 80. Nonetheless, the enterprise stays sound as a result of “we hold struggling: getting up early, treating the shoppers nicely, with attraction.” It’s additionally “a joint effort, along with my daughter and son, my daughter-in-law and my husband,” Azalia instructed us. Though this final yr they needed to lay off two staff to remain afloat (one which packed the charcoal, and one which watched the bikes), she maintains her purpose to work exhausting and make the most of alternatives to proceed rising.

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