Citi, Fundación Avina and Fundación La Nación held their 3rd micro entrepreneur and microfinance award ceremony, for which this year there were 189 micro entrepreneurs from 12 provinces and presented by 25 microfinance institutions considered. Because of their particular achievements on their enterprise’s sustainability, multiplying impact and environmental consciousness, seven micro entrepreneurs and their respective microfinance institutions were rewarded.

There were three main awards (gold, silver and a mention for environmental care) for each category, them being production and services, and an additional award to the “micro entrepreneur of the year”, which was given out for the first time. At least half of the prize money, consisting of 15000 pesos for the gold award, 10,000 pesos for the silver one, 5,000 for the environmental care mention and 25,000 for the “micro entrepreneur of the year”, was expected to be invested in their respective developments.

The “micro entrepreneur of the year” was given to Lucía Villalba, native to the Chaco province in Northeastern Argentina, where she started her project named “El Galpón de los Sueños” (The warehouse of dreams) which consists on the purchase, processing, stock and sale of solid urban wastes (glass, plastic, nylon and cardboard).  The institution which facilitated Lucia’s credit to set up her business is the Asociación Civil Obispo Angelelli.

The “gold” award in the production sector was given to Marcela Fabiana Castrillo Madel, a descendant from Native Americans from Salta, owner of “Mixtura Andina, which is dedicated to the production of decorative household godos inspired on nature, landscapes and the cultural legacy of the land. She’s a client of ProMujer Argentina and her business now has reach in 7 other provinces.

The “silver” award in production was given to Marcela Bottaro, who owns the succesful “Marcela Bottaro Creaciones”, her women’s clothing business, and was supported by Contigo Microfinanzas.

 The recipient of the Environmental Care Mention was Marco Javier Abraham, owner of “Yungasol Productos de tomate árbol” which is dedicated to the all natural production and recollection of the fruit from the “tomate árbol” (tomato tree, literally), a native species from the undergrowth of the Tucumán Yungas (mountain rainforest) which is either directly consumed or used in jams, syrups and liquors. His credit was granted by “Fundación Ecologista Nuestra Tierra”.

In the services sector, the gold award was for María del Carmen Varela, who opened her own bakery delivery services in 2010 which has succesfully blossomed in the city of Tigre (Buenos Aires province) and is now considering the opening of a second one.  Asociación Civil Proyecto Mujeres 2000 provided her with her needed credit.

The silver award was handed to María de los Ángeles Soubelet, from Mar del Plata, whose merit lies in the success of her initiative “Recicladora La Familia” which is dedicated to the recollection, classification and processing of recycled material to be later commercialized by  schools and businesses, while at the same time giving courses and training on the subject. Contigo Microfinanzas provided credit for this intiative.

The Environmental Care Mention in services was given to Verónica Emilse Luna who hails from Famaillá, Tucuman province, where she started her project “Graficate” which consists of embroidery, stamping and other works on textiles. Graficate tries to work on as many goods of recycled and/or environmental origin as posible, and chooses to work with sugar cane paper, which is more expensive but more eco friendly. She was aided with her credit by Centro de Empresarios Famaillá.

Another novelty this year was the Award to the Microfinance Institutions, which has as a goal to distinguish the institution with the most innovative (and feasible) ideas on the field. The award recipient was the civil association “Nuestras Huellas” which developed , adapted, implemented and distributed free software to be used in solidary finances.

Thie years jury was made up by last year’s gold award recipient in production, Oscar Aguirre; Daniel Arroyo, president of Poder Ciudadano; Pablo Vagliente, head of the national branch of Fundación Avina; Eduardo Ramos Mejía, president of RADIM; Florencia Saguier, development manager of Fundación La Nación, and Vivianne Caumont, CFO of Citi Argentina. The award ceremony was celebrated within the frame of the “Jornadas Anuales de Microfinanzas” (Annual Microfinance Sessions) hosted by RADIM and held at the University of Buenos Aires, Faculty of Economics.