Every time our team sees dark rainclouds or a running fountain, the same thought runs through our minds—we hope Saucito gets some of that water. Last week our team went traveled to Saucito, a small town about an hour away from Zacatecas. After traveling in and around Zacatecas for the past two weeks conducting interviews we thought we were used to dusty desert towns. However, none of the places we had traveled to prepared us for Saucito. Saucito had no water. The water to the town had been literally turned off because the town could no longer afford it. People bought bottled water or relied on wells that had been dug by their home (though some wells were starting to run dry). Water was used sparingly. Activities that I didn’t think twice about at home (taking a shower, washing my hands, washing my clothes), were activities that were carefully planned here. People weren’t even sure where to direct us to a public restroom.
I think Aaron is going to write more about our experience in the town. But, let me just say that I have a much greater appreciation for my access to water after having been in a place where water is so scarce.
Besides learning to be thankful for water, our visit to Saucito and interviews with the women drove home the point that external factors like the local economy, lack of political clout, and lack of natural resources can play more of a determining role in the success of a business than the entrepreneur. Skills that the microentrepreneurs learn in their basic business courses are only as useful as their ability to apply them if your end goal is to develop a sustainable business. Our visit to Saucito played a huge role in informing one of our recommendations that the organization focus on forming cooperatives in marginalized communities, such as Saucito. By forming cooperatives and coupling this with vocational training, women would be able to pool their resources and create enough volume of a product to export it outside of their local economy.