You’ve already met Rebecca Kousky, the inspiring woman behind Nest, so you’ll be psyched for our monthly edition of Nest Success Stories. What is a Nest Success Story? Read on to find out how Nest’s unique microbarter system empowers women to thrive in impoverished areas. And don’t forget to check back next month for another amazing story!
Nest has a partnership with a cooperative of women in the Dominican Republic in the small community of Batey Allemon. The cooperative leader is a woman named Ramona. As a child and teenager, Ramona moved to several communities throughout the east side of the Dominican Republic. The constant moving made it difficult for Ramona to find steady employment and support her family. However, after she got married and moved to her husband’s home in Batey Alemmon at 18 years old, she found a full-time job at the Zona Franca, a huge industrial park at the heart of San Pedro de Macoris.
For almost seven straight years, Ramona worked 50 to 60 hour weeks in Zona Franca for less than 20 bucks a week. A large portion of the money she earned went to paying for her commute from Batey Allemon to San Pedro de Macoris. Regardless of her expenses, Ramona still became a significant contributor in her household during these seven years. When she had her first child at 23, she continued to work. Even when her second child came a year later, Ramona continued to carry such a demanding workload.
However, when her third child came, the commute, the hours and her growing family made it impossible to continue her job at the Zona Franca. Ramona took a few years off from her job to raise her three children. Unfortunately, in those few short years, the Zona Franca was forced to cut the amount of people they employed from over 20,000 to less than 2,000. When Ramona was prepared to start financially contributing to her family again, her job at the Zona Franca was no longer available.
Eager to seek employment again, Ramona was intrigued by the cooperative Nest was establishing in Batey Allemon. After learning of the cooperative’s hours and location, she joined. Not only would Ramona be able to stay close to home and take care of her young children, but she wouldn’t have to spend a fortune commuting to work every day. After a year working with the cooperative, she remains committed to her job. Pregnant with her fourth child, Ramona doesn’t have to worry about how her new baby will affect her job!
Donate to support women like RAMONA today.
-Rebecca Kousky, founder of Nest
Nest was founded as an alternative to more traditional versions of microfinance. Our innovative approach draws on microlending, but departs from that model by replacing traditional microlending with what we call “microbarter.” Microbarter allows women to repay interest-free loans in crafts they make rather than cash, thereby eliminating many of the practical and cultural limitations associated with traditional borrowing and microfinance. While our microbartering loans provide necessary initial capital for raw materials, supplies and equipment and also beginning access to the western market, they do not function, on their own, as a sole solution.
We also provide comprehensive financial and business training and secure access to western markets by opening retail channels through an ethical souring initiative. These partnerships include products for American Eagle, Forever 21, REEF and FEED. We believe that these three components are important pieces in the creation of viable craft businesses in the developing world.
GIRL TALK TIME: What do you think of Ramona’s story? Have you supported Nest yet? Your purchase will support Nest and provide a woman with income and a sense of independence, plus their stuff is pretty, stylish and handmade! Shop for products that Ramona and other women like her have made> OR like Nest on Facebook (facebook.com/buildanest) and follow them on Twitter (twitter.com/buildanest).