From Jo Ann Swahn, Microfinance Director
A precious piece of paper has finally been approved, stamped, sealed and delivered into our hands! It is the official registration of the Honduran Tile Cooperative that allows this micro enterprise to operate and receive tax benefits allowed cooperatives.
Officially named the Cooperativa de Produccion Artesanal de Piedra Natural de Honduras, the project is recognized as a social program for the benefit of the people through job creation for chronically unemployed in a poor, rural area of Honduras.
Agusto Medina, my Honduran counterpart, persistently shepherded our application through an arduous labyrinth of bureaucracy that often times seemed impossible to navigate. With help from invaluable contacts we have made over the few years, and with the Grace of God, it is accomplished! Having this legal document in our hands allows us to proceed in completing the project.
Construction 90% completed!
The site is almost completed. It is a simple structure of brick, partial roofing, cement pathways, and fencing. River stones will be brought by truck into the open square. The saw operation is covered but open-sided to allow ventilation and comfort for the workers. When the stones are cut into small 5/8” X 5/8” squares, workers will wheel them to the gluing operation where women workers will glue the pieces onto one-foot square pieces.
When enough squares are completed to fill a shipping container, about 8,000 square foot tiles, the product will be shipped to San Pedro Sula for sale and distribution there, or shipped to the U.S. for sale and distribution in the States.
MAJOR DONATION RECEIVED FOR ELECTRICAL INFRASTRUCTURE
We discovered that the existing electricity at the site was insufficient to power the equipment. Three-phase electricity had to be brought in from the nearest highway for a cost of $15,000. A major donor stepped up and provided these funds. An electrical engineer submitted the electrical plan to the national utility company, and that plan was officially approved on December 23rd. Installation will begin soon, requiring about 6-8 weeks for completion.
EQUIPMENT WILL NOW BE ORDERED FROM CHINA
The approved electrical plan was needed before ordering the saws and other tools from China. The shipment is expected to take 6-8 weeks to make its way from China through customs at Puerto Cortes in Honduras.
INSTALLATION OF EQUIPMENT AND TRAINING
When the equipment is installed, a core crew of eight workers will be trained to operate the equipment and make the tiles. All eight, three men and five women, will be cross-trained so all are knowledgable in the entire manufacturing process. This core crew will validate production assumptions so we can accurately forecast time to complete a shipment of tiles. A month is planned for training. When the core crew has learned the equipment and perfected tile-making skills, the remaining ten workers will be brought on and taught by the original crew.
Predicting when things will happen in Honduras is a hazardous undertaking. Nothing happens how or when you think! That being said, if we keep the remaining steps on schedule, a late Spring opening is possible.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE PEOPLE YUSCARAN
Reverendo Dagoberto Chacon selected people from several villages in Yuscaran: Corral Quemado, Chaguite, Las Cruitas, Ojo de Agua, El Rancho, Los Lainez, Moroceli, Los Tablones, Aqua Blanca, Pataste, and Yuscaran. In this way we are sharing the employment opportunity throughout the community and following cooperative regulations of diversifying workers. Thirteen women and five men make up the work force of 18 workers. All are currently unemployed. The workers earnings are based on producing and selling tiles. By producing one shipping container per month, workers will earn on average $17 a day—well above the defining $1/$2 poverty barrier and certainly more than they earn now.
The sustainable income will mean workers can provide for their children’s educations, as well as their healthcare, homes, and overall better quality of life.
As work output increases, more workers can be added, thus expanding employment to more people throughout the community.
ADDITIONAL FUNDING NEEDED
We have all the funds needed to complete the project, expand the electrical infrastructure and p!urchase the tile-making equipment.
Where we still need help is sufficient funds for workers wages during the training and ramp-up period. And we need to build a fund for a down payment on a truck that the Cooperative will need.
Any and all donations will be appreciated as we finally come close to completing this microenterprise.