Staying Busy With Small Business

Paraguayan fieldI am often impressed how people in my community have so many side jobs. Women in my community make woven sunhats, bake things to sell, make clothes, and collect medical herbs—the list goes on. Men often have skills they’ll sell—like being an electrician. One woman I work with put herself through college selling medical herbs and she makes extra money now selling ice cream at the soccer games (every Sunday). People are very crafty and not shy about selling things door-to-door, on buses, or on the side of the street.

Making things to sell is something people in my community are raised doing. Children, as young as 8, will go around selling things.

Sometimes, whole families will work together, in their free time, on side jobs. Like leading up to Palm Sunday, my family made woven palms. Sometimes people will weave hats or work on other projects while visiting.

Paraguayans never stop noticing products and services that could be sold. But, making some side money is often the limit of the vision. Few Paraguayans I’ve met, even the hardest working, see their side jobs as something that could be grown into a larger business.

In my community people almost exclusively do activities that relate to making money. The three exceptions to this are playing and watching soccer, participating in religious activities, and keeping the house clean. It’s really hard to explain to Paraguayans in my community why you would do something just for the sake of doing it—like volunteering in the Peace Corps, for example.