Ruth Melisa Hinostroza Alarcón is a native of Munaypata, a small village located at 1 hour and 30 minutes from the city of Ayacucho, at an altitude of 2700 metres above sea level. At the age of 22, she is already running two businesses: guinea pig breeding and organic quinoa production. In addition, she entered the University of Ayacucho to study business administration. She is one of the first graduating class of the JOVEM project - Young Entrepreneurs of Solid Perú, which aims to train young entrepreneurs in rural areas.
Melisa is a motivated, empowered and entrepreneurial young woman. Her story is striking because she is one of the first young women to dare to start a business in the rural area of Ayacucho. Melisa is breaking with several of the rural population's stereotypes: that it is not possible to do business in the countryside, especially at altitudes of over 3,000 metres, that entrepreneurship is only for men, that young people only have one option when they finish school: to go to the city to look for a future.
Guinea pig production
"I was trained for 3 years in the JOVEM project, and as part of the training we visited various farms, producers, etc. I told myself, why can't I start a business in my village, if I have land, space, raw materials, everything I need to start a business? That's how I got motivated to start the guinea pig breeding business", Melisa tells us proudly.
But starting a business is difficult and requires a lot of perseverance, a skill that Melisa has strengthened as part of her training, since the project not only trains entrepreneurs to manage technified farming activities, but also strengthens their personal skills, considering that they are in their teenage years.
"I started with a small shed, with 7 guinea pigs, I got to have 14, but some of them were dying, in the end the shed was full. In all this I gained experience. Then I said, why can't I make a bigger shed, so I started to build this shed in which I have about 150 guinea pigs, its capacity is for 300, I am at 50%. I sell these guinea pigs here in my village and to the Montefino farm, and the average monthly profit is 200 soles. My projection is to reach the market of the city of Ayacucho", Melisa tells us, explaining the different breeds she has in her shed.Organic quinoa production
Melisa is one of the young generation who are aware of new opportunities, like all entrepreneurs. And when she found out that organic quinoa is also a profitable business and that she has land for it, she decided to start her second business: organic quinoa production.
"I am very happy and excited to carry out my second business plan, this year I sowed one hectare, for next year I plan to double the sowing to 2 hectares, or 3 hectares", the smiling Melisa tells us about her projects with quinoa.
Melisa, together with other young quinoa producers, created an association in order to offer a larger quantity of quinoa to the quinoa companies, i.e. they will be able to negotiate better conditions for the sale of organic quinoa. The association also allows Melisa and the other associates to share information about quinoa production, varieties, costs and so on.
"We have gathered several young quinoa producers, we have an association. We will gather the quinoa in order to have a larger quantity and to negotiate better conditions with the collection companies. This is something we also learned in the Jovem project, that of uniting our businesses and being partners to have better support", says the young entrepreneur.Young mother and university student
Melisa has a son, Iker, aged 5. She became a mother at the age of 17. She had to turn a deaf ear to the opinions of acquaintances and even relatives that she would stagnate in her goals, but she had already been strengthening her ability within the Jovem project, and with a lot of courage and persistence she has been undertaking 2 businesses and managed to enter the university of Ayacucho in one of the first places.
"Being a young mother means making a double effort, organising and tidying up. There were people who said to me, 'You already have a child and you won't be able to achieve your goals. But now I'm proving to those who told me that, that you can succeed when you set your mind to it", she says proudly, hugging little Iker.
This year Melisa gave her parents another piece of good news: she managed to enter the University of Ayacucho to study Business Administration, a career that she finally chose after her experience with her business plans, that is, the Jovem project helped Melisa to choose a profession that was related to her experience and the plans that she had already drawn up.
"I had in mind to study another career, but when I came to the Jovem project, I changed. Something told me that you have to study management. Within the project we visited experiences of companies and enterprises, I saw how the Montefino farm where we were training worked, and all of this made me decide to study Business Administration in the end. My classes will start in August", Melisa explains.