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Micro-credits for Baru Island entrepreneurs

by Fundacion Hernan Echavarria Olozaga
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Micro-credits for Baru Island entrepreneurs
Micro-credits for Baru Island entrepreneurs
Micro-credits for Baru Island entrepreneurs
Micro-credits for Baru Island entrepreneurs
Micro-credits for Baru Island entrepreneurs
Micro-credits for Baru Island entrepreneurs
Micro-credits for Baru Island entrepreneurs
Micro-credits for Baru Island entrepreneurs
Micro-credits for Baru Island entrepreneurs
Sergio
Sergio

Sergio is a 52-year-old Caribbean craftsman, who stands out for his charisma and great smile. More than two years ago, he shared with us his life story and his journey as an entrepreneur.

Starting 2020, just before the pandemic, he felt this was going to be a great year. Such was his presentiment, that this year he did not only want to sell handicrafts to tourists, but also to resume the business of water transport and tours, for which, with the savings of past seasons, the profits from the sale of handicrafts and an engine that he had for more than a year, he started this business that was not new to him and that was going to allow him in his words "to have two entrances". (Meaning: 2 sources of income).

During the second week of March 2020, he transported the last group of tourists from the port of Barú to the Hotel were he worked, to whom he also had the opportunity to sell his handicrafts. They came from countries like France, Panama, Cuba and Chile. "The last ones are my favorites, because they appreciate the culture and customs of the Caribbean very much", says Sergio while enjoying a corozo juice sitting in his house’s doorway.

And he continues his story by pointing out “I never imagined that a virus that was so far from our land would take everything away from us; never in my life I had spent this much time at home. I feel locked up, sometimes I go fishing but I don't catch anything”.

"Sometimes I feel stressed, and I feel like I have to take care of something, so my wife and I go to sweep the community beaches."

“With God's favor I hope that before the end of the year we can go back to work on tourism. COVID was a surprise and an opportunity to learn for everyone. The pandemic has taught us to value work, family and even to identify our true friends. People have lost loved ones, their businesses and jobs, but we must be strong and start from scratch if necessary. COVID has left each person a different lesson, but it has taught us all that we can be better human beings”, Sergio concludes.

Sergio in his boat
Sergio in his boat
Sergio's smile
Sergio's smile

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Uriel
Uriel

“I was born in the 70s in the most beautiful place that can exist: the island of Baru”, says Uriel with enthusiasm while smiling and taking a seat in one of the rocking chairs that he placed in his patio under the trees.

Uriel was born for business; when he was still a child, he helped his parents and uncles in the family businesses. When he had enough experience, he decided to have his own business and opted for what most attracts tourists who visit Baru after the white beaches and crystal clear waters: handicrafts.

In the necklaces, bracelets and rings that he makes by hand and the carved stones, he reflects the landscapes of Playa Blanca, one of the emblematic sites of the island. “I imagine the blue water, the union of the sky and the sea, the sunsets and I put the island touch with bright and cheerful colors. That is the secret behind the beauty of the crafts, expressing what you are through them and make people feel that they are taking something special from the place they visited”.

After 20 years selling handicrafts, Ariel has his own house and has provided education to his children; he has met all kind of national and foreign tourists. He has learned about the seasonality of sales and, therefore, saves part of his profit and asks for microcredits to prepare for the high seasons, with a better and different product. During the low seasons, he sells seafood and fish. "I never stay still, I cannot imagine another life, in another place, because the sea gives us sustenance and the opportunity to work" concludes Uriel with satisfaction.

Uriel's handcrafts
Uriel's handcrafts

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Delis
Delis

Delis is an outgoing and enthusiastic woman, who in her words "do not complicate".

She had her children at an early age. They all became the engine of her life. “When I saw myself alone with my kids, I said - I will not allow hunger to win this battle. So I took the rice I had available and instead of making dinner, I made it “chicha” to sell, because if you don`t risk an egg, you don`t earn a chicken”.

Delis was about 20,when she started selling “rice chicha” in her house. Her family, friends and neighbours were the first ones to help her, buying the product. She mentions, "Although she didn't earn much, selling chicha was very helpful".

After a while, Delis realized that some people preferred a beer over a “chicha” for the warm weather, so she decided to buy several boxes and started selling beers for celebrations, birthday parties and for those that as she says “just wanted to have one, to refresh themselves”.

Delis has been in the soft drink business for more than 20 years, which helped her improved her house ‘s conditions and support her children to go to school.

Although there are good days and others not so much, she mentions with gratitude “I always sell, because God does not leave its children in shame and I can proudly say that people prefer me, because I make one of the best “chichas” in town”.

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Ana Paola
Ana Paola

Ana Paola is married. She lives with her husband, her mother and her three children. She started selling children’s clothes in a table in her living room, 10 years ago.

Since then, she was really kind with her costumers, which were mostly her neighbors. Ana was in love with her business and thanks to her savings and her mother’s support, she adapted a room as a local in her house, in order to improve her costumer service.

This turned out to be a good idea because people from all over the town and even thought tourists started going to her shop and buy a lot. Thanks to this, she begun to buy from other suppliers that gave her better prices, which help her have always a good inventory.

Currently, Ana sells women, men and children clothes, shoes, purses and accessories among others. For Ana, her shop is a dream come true.

Ana Paola finds it difficult when she can’t find the exact articles her costumers asked for or when people don’t want to pay on time, but she gives them payment facilities.

On the other side, her joy is when she has a good inventory and varieties, so her clients start buying as they find the latest trends. She says, her shop is a reflection of what she is: “ a responsible, respectful woman, full of love”.

Ana’s goal is to build a second floor on top of her shop, to have more space in order to organize better her products, so that her costumers have a more confortable experience when they buy.

Ana's shop
Ana's shop

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Efren
Efren

Efren is 61 years old. He was borne in Baru and to him the Ocean is his everything.

His connection with the Sea started when we was a little boy and he used to swim in the access canals to Baru, were he watched the boats go in and out and he dreamed of being a Captain.

When Efren’s mother asked him to go with her to Cartagena, he couldn’t sleep waiting for the next day to come so that he could go on boat.

Efren never forgot about his dream. When he was 19, he started working in a farm close to his town. When he had saved enough money to buy wood and a motor, he resigned and invested all his savings in building a canoe, with his father’s help.

Since then, Efren has sailed the Caribbean Sea for 40 years, transporting natives and visitors to Cartagena, the Rosario Islands and White Beach. Because of his job, he has been able to race his 9 children.

Along these 40 years, Efren has had different canoes to transport between 10 and 15 passengers. It was only 13 years ago that he could buy his first fiberglass boat which he named “Qué qué” or “What what”. Now he can transport 30 people.

Thanks to the microcredit Efren got with the project, he was able to renew all the life vests of the boat and for the first time buy children life vests.

Efren aims to keep working towards providing a better service to his clients and to keep living with the calm and the freedom that, in his own words, “only the Sea can give you”.  

Efren in his boat
Efren in his boat

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Organization Information

Fundacion Hernan Echavarria Olozaga

Location: Bogota / Cartagena, Cundinamarca/Bolívar - Colombia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Ana Milena Ordosgoitia
Bogota, Cundinamarca Colombia
$1,752 raised of $16,920 goal
 
63 donations
$15,168 to go
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