Are you looking for a simple business in a tropical country with low overhead and a chance to sell to a captive market? Three options come to mind, and perhaps one might pique your interest!
1. BROOMS – Someone laughed once when I suggested opening a broom-manufacturing company as a way to make money in Ecuador.
Quickly I retorted, “I’m not kidding! I haven’t found a decent broom in this country! There were no good brooms in Costa Rica either!”
The type of brooms pictured above work well for scrubbing a concrete floor in an open area, but they are lousy at reaching beneath furniture or coaxing the dirt from corners. (Do I hear an “Amen’ from other keepers of the casitas?) These brooms are sold in local markets, along with equally-frustrating plastic versions.
Once I saw an old man peddling old-fashioned straw brooms, and I regret not buying one. (Or three!) One thinks twice before buying something that has to tag along on the bus journey home!
About six months ago I spotted a spiffy model in one of the larger supermarket chains. “Yippee! A decent broom!” I proudly paid twice the price of the common brooms, though I did not retrieve the handle. One ponders every item before transporting it back on a five-hour bus journey, and the handle from an old broom would work fine!
Sigh; the old broomstick did not fit, so the next time I was in that market, I asked for assistance, but the young guy couldn’t find a handle to fit that style of broom! I returned home and found a way to marry the new model to the old broomstick!
2. MATCHES – One often needs a good supply of candles and matches in the rainy season when power failures (in the country) happen regularly. Do you think that the manufacturers personally test these products?
One has to hold the match perilously close to the head, or it bends or snaps! (And it bends and snaps anyway!) In the rainy season, the matches are moist from humidity, so one might strike a dozen or so matches before getting a flame! Try lighting a gas cook top with one of those tiny matches!
Usually I triple the matches, attempt to strike them, then light a candle, then light the stove top burner… (-No, usually I reach for the pistol lighter!)
Why are companies so frugal with the wood? I remain baffled! When one strikes a dozen duds before achieving success, couldn’t they just make stronger matches and not put so many per box?
3. CLOTHESPINS – Roll that thought to the clothespins; I was so pleased to see wooden clothes pins – until I used them!
They too are undersized and flimsy. When I hung a few small unframed watercolors from a line, the brand new clothespins often twisted apart and broke! The petite plastic ones have their faults as well. The tropical heat weakens the plastic, which eventually snaps!
The next time you strike a match, and it’s a strong little burro of a matchstick, would you wrap that little box and send it priority express to me in Ecuador?!!! (And throw in some clothespins and a few good brooms as well!)
If anyone is considering one of these unique business opportunities, I volunteer to help with a logo in exchange for a percent of your gross! I might even find a few hard-working employees or a general manager wearing a big smile!
Escobas, anyone? See many examples of wood on this week’s Where’s My Backpack.