20070608 carmen rueda paucar and her children
Carmen Rueda Paucar and her children stand in front of Carmen's small business - a convenience store in front of her house. - 

TESS VIGELAND: Nick mentioned that most of these microloans go to women in an effort to boost their status in the developing world. We arranged to speak with one of those women.

Carmen Rueda Paucar is a widow and mother of three. She lives in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where she runs a small convenience store. Carmen has received two loans from Kiva.

CARMEN RUEDA PAUCAR: I needed the money because I wanted to invest in a small store that I have right outside of my house. I bought inventory for the store and then I also started raising chickens. Also, I invested in making plantain chips here for the local community. I bought a small machine to make plantain chips, and I've been doing that also.

VIGELAND: Carmen asked for - and received - $500 for her store, called Tienda Rosarito. The money came from six different people - from Australia, Alaska, Missouri and Kansas.

Now, $500 wouldn't even pay for the permit to open a small business in the U.S. We asked what it did for her.

PAUCAR: Actually, $500 was perfect for me, because I ended up paying less interest. And it was exactly what I needed to raise an inventory for my store, because I do have a small store.

VIGELAND: And what was she making on this day?

PAUCAR: My living room right now is serving also as a small restaurant during lunchtime. I started selling lunches recently, so my living room is kind of turning into another small business. I'm making minestrone soup with a little bit of pork in it, and I have rice with beet salad and fried meats.

VIGELAND: Mmm. Save some for us.