La Vaquita (Little Cow) is a dairy business that began in 2005 with a dream of five mothers and daughters to open a small business where neighbors could shop for fresh dairy products and basic household supplies.
The women make a variety of hard and soft cheeses and have developed markets both locally and regionally because they have a quality product.
Each mother-daughter team rotates days working 6 am to 7 pm. Each day they make the dairy products, run the store, and keep the accounts.
When the women started to make cheese, the local dairy farmer would not sell them milk claiming “women don’t know anything about that.” Now, La Vaquita is his biggest customer.
Like many SEW businesses, La Vaquita started in one woman’s house. Now, with a grant through SEW, they have their own building.
The women told SEW, “We have a high quality product here in our community; it’s good nutrition and we’re recognized as competent business people. Other women have seen what we do and want to start their own initiatives.”
All the business partners are active in their community with literacy, health, youth or church needs.
La Vaquita offers interest-free credit for customers who cannot pay in full with the expectation they will pay within 15 days or lose access to credit.
The women are now recognized as community leaders in their area. Three women were voted onto town council last year; two volunteer for the literacy training program; and others serve on the HIV/AIDS prevention committee, in the medical clinic, and at their local church.
As the business grows, the women would like to set up a revolving fund that would enable them to buy more milk when the price is lower. Surplus cheese could be frozen and sold year-round.