Sunday, May 9, 2010

Get Smart

Little has changed in regards to the status of my poor Coop in despair. They are still broke and it continues to be a daily struggle to pay workers, creditors AND scrounge up enough dough to buy food for the school’s daily snack. However, there are a few glimmers of light; some creative and positive changes that are occurring in response to the economic crisis we have dug ourselves into.

Getting with the times, our minibank has had a little bailout of its own. Five affluent townspeople (including some socios) have taken it upon themselves to save the bank from sinking. They have removed all of the Coops money and infused the account with about Q20,000 of their own funds. They now supervise Selvin, our “banker” (if you can call him that), like hawks on a field mouse (funny, now that I think of it, Selvin kinda looks mousy). Every day they revise all transactions and count the cash on hand. Its sad that it took a meltdown before anyone payed attention to the money that flows in and out of that little enterprise. Better late than never, i guess.

Another creative development... on Friday we had our monthly Coop meeting. After a good hour of pointing fingers, questioning “where did all the money go and why do we not have any record of where it went” and solid declarations of, “we will not let this break us” the discussion turned to “how do we get “pilas” and fix this?” (Side note: pilas translates to battery- like as in energizer- but is also a term used for clever or smart). Some said we need to sell more disinfectant, others said we need to outsource the purchase of food for the schools, but the winner, the idea that took the cake, was the suggestion that we should hold a raffle. We are going to make additional funds by selling about 200 Q5 raffle tickets around town. The prize: a used sewing machine (whether it is functioning is still TBD). I have to hand it to the socios for pulling together during this rough patch. Its a positive sign that they are gonna pound some pavement and make money out of nothing. And even if this only earns them Q1,000 of the Q30,000 they are in debt, at least its a step in the right direction. To do my part, I have offered to help make the tickets with Jenny and design posters promoting the raffle throughout town.

All of these tactics are a step in the right direction but I still find myself pondering the possibility of a cure all idea that would restore my Coops financial stability. Then I have to remind myself that although a magic wand approach may help their current situation, would it change their business savvy? Probably not. Its the little things that will make a big difference in the long run. For instance, they are finally realizing that i’m not being excessive by urging them to keep better records. Its rewarding to hear socios in the meeting mandate that the new treasurer keep a book of “entradas y salidas”- something that I have been preaching since my bookkeeping charla in December. I have had my first real success on this front- a pro-treasurer has been assigned to help with the bookkeeping (remember my treasurer can’t read or write) and I have my first meeting with them both on Wednesday to start keeping better financial records. No magic wand will be present. Just pen, paper and a calculator.

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