Monday, August 5, 2013

Well-Nurtured Business Cares for Babies

AZOGUES, Ecuador --- Inspired by the birth of his son Mateo―and the realization that running out of diapers is not an option―Pedro opened a baby supply store three-and-a-half years ago in the town of Azogues. With a vision to serve clients well, Pedro’s business has expanded from his original store to a second store in a close-by community. Like a well fed, well cared-for baby, his business is growing and thriving.

“I’ve learned that my business belongs to God, that everything is his and I am a steward,” Pedro said.  “God is showing me that he is the true owner of everything and I am seeing his blessing.”

Born in a city near the Peruvian border, Pedro moved to Azogues and met his wife, Anita, a school teacher. Though the town of 34,000, located in an Andean valley northeast of Cuenca, has an economy based in agriculture, flour milling, and Panama hat weaving, unemployment is high, and Pedro found it very difficult to find a job. “People didn’t want to hire me because I’m not from here,” he said. “I had many ideas of starting different businesses.  But there was always this fear that the businesses wouldn't go well.  What if the people didn't like my products?”

After Mateo’s birth, Pedro and Anita realized there was a product they could sell that would always be in demand: diapers, not to mention wipes, formula, teething rings, and other baby essentials. Yet Pedro lacked solid training and access to the wider circles of exchange that would allow him to develop his strengths and talents. His business floundered at first, and he contemplated giving up and moving someplace with more jobs.
The turning point for Pedro was taking a business training course through Cuenca Partners, the local affiliate of Partners Worldwide in nearby Cuenca. The course “was a huge help for me because I didn't know anything about business,” said Pedro.  “I was taught how to manage the store, take it to the next level, do bookkeeping—all of it. There was an 80% transformation of the business after I took the course.”

One thing he learned was the principle of inventory control. “When we get down to three (items) of a product, we need to start ordering more,” he said. By quickly replenishing dwindling supplies, Pedro runs the kind of store his clients can rely on.

“Pedro has products in stock that at any point his competitors might not have,” said Carlos Serrano, who currently works part-time for Cuenca Partners and part-time for Verbo Church.  “His clients come to him because of that dependability.”

Along with dependability, there’s integrity and the desire “to be faithful to God in everything.” This means resisting the temptation to buy cheaper but stolen goods for his store. “I know it’s not right,” Pedro said. “I only buy things with receipts so that everything goes well.”

Today, the store is bustling; it’s not unusual for Pedro to serve ten customers in ten minutes. The demand is so high that Pedro opened a second location eight blocks away and hired an employee to run it. Both baby stores are flourishing, as Pedro works hard and dreams of building his business, providing for his family and meeting the needs of his community.

“Time will tell what else we can do in the business,” Pedro said. “God has great plans for my life—I am convinced.  Now my goal is to stay faithful to Him.”

Read the story on the Partners Worldwide website here.

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