Wednesday, September 9, 2009


PYMES is the acronym here for Pequeñas Y Medianas Empresas - small and medium businesses. Often this gets expanded to Micro, Pequeña y Mediana - micro, small and medium businesses. Here's a good example of the micro businesses that are, in so many ways, the core enterprise in this very entrepreneurial country.

This is one of two small tienditas that serve the students in the government primary school here. Both put their tables right up against the school fence and attach their sunshade plastic roofs to the fence. This and almost all the micro-businesses that involve sales here are run by women, women who wear the characteristic market apron, with its rows of lace and zippered pocket for change.

This tiendita is probably the main income source for the family that runs it, a family that lives in a house right across the street, as I found when I walked by one afternoon when they were moving all the unsold goods back. There was a man of the family helping with that process.

I hope to learn more about how tienditas like this one purchase their stock. Perhaps someone from the family goes down to the tiendona, the huge wholesale marketplace in the old city center of San Salvador, or perhaps they purchase from a middleman (I suspect it would be a man) who sells to many micro enterprises in Suchitoto.

What do they sell? Snacks, candy, soft drinks, gum, stickers, green mango shavings in plastic bags... Prices, I'd guess, range from 5 cents to una cora, a quarter.

This little store is set up every morning on the city sidewalk, a public right-of-way, but no one would think of disputing this family's informal ownership of their spot. No one in the school would think of demanding that these women stop selling to the students (though you can easily imagine both scenarios in the U.S.)

This is how the informal economy is built in El Salvador, and it's a huge part of economic life here.

No comments:

Post a Comment