Domitila Roca: Domitila’s ponchos pay for her daughter’s physio

Client: Domitila Roca

Business: Knitwear

Location: Peru

Gender: Woman

A mother of two disabled children is knitting her family a brighter future – thanks to two loans from ECLOF Peru.

Domitila Roca and her husband Felix have started building a new house from the proceeds of their knitwear business. The Rocas, from Northern Lima, Peru, have restarted physiotherapy for their daughter who has lost the use of her legs. In the past six years the Rocas have sold about 2000 sweaters, ponchos, bonnets, scarves and the like – mainly to the Italian market.

Their first loan was to buy Alpaca wool. And the second loan was for PEN 1300 (USD 450) – to supply working capital to increase production. The business sells about 30 sweaters per month, and in busy months Domitila contracts two women to knit for her. “The years of suffering are over,” says Domitila, now that the business supports their three grown-up children who all live at home.

Their eldest daughter, Nelly, 29, has a learning disability similar to Downs Syndrome. The younger daughter, Lucy, 27, can no longer walk since she got untreated meningitis at 15. Lucy checks the knitwear for defects before it goes on sale. The Rocas' son, Jesus, is 20.

The idea for the business came in 2004. Felix was working in Italy when he complained to Domitila about the cold. So she knitted him a sweater and sent it out to him. Felix’s colleagues liked his sweater so much they wanted them too.

The Rocas sell most of their knitwear in Italy where they can earn five times what they would if they sold only in Peru. Domitila posts the knitwear or sends it abroad through her network of friends who take it with them on their travels. Besides Italy, her clothes have sold in the USA, Egypt and Australia.