Stone Link Bracelet
The third obstacle is the ability to get a grant or loan to get the inventory they need to use the Internet as a tool. They have the computers and other infrastructure to do the job but to get the money they have to fill out a lot of legal paperwork. To comply with all of the necessary paperwork to get a grant, it usually costs around $1,000 to $2,000 U.S. in fees. If they do not get the grant, they have spent the money and received nothing in return. They also have the option of getting a loan; however, the cost to process a loan goes up about another one or two thousand dollars. After all is said and done, they will not end up with enough money left from the loan to do what they need to do. As Pat, the Mentor, put it, “They are cash poor and sweat equity rich. They have the ability to do the job and want to work but they need to find viable outlets for their products” (personal communication, January 26, 2005).
They are trying to tap into markets that will give a better wage to the workers of the cooperative. The cooperative pays the workers at the shop a salary. Two women, Alma and Luz, are in charge of making molds for the centrifuge machine and casting the molds. Pedro is the polisher and heavy lifter of the group and has worked with the cooperative for several years. The work he does is very demanding physically and is often difficult for a small Mexican woman to do. There are also a couple of other employees that do miscellaneous tasks. Each person in the shop is paid a salary of between 400 and 800 pesos per week, depending on their experience and time with the shop. The opportunity to have creativity, a steady salary, and a place to work that is not with a family member, are the reasons why people stay with the cooperative. Another reason is that they like their co-workers and the work that they do. They are able to grow as individuals and to contribute to their families. They work only about 40 hours per week and have the flexibility to take a day off, go to school, or learn new things on their own.