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
Oneida with her children
Oneida with her children

Oneida is originally from “Palacio” a small town in Sucre, far away from Cartagena. She defines herself as a strong, brave and fighter woman.

She lived in her hometown until she was 16. Then, she decided to move to Cartagena searching for an opportunity. In Cartagena, Oneida started working with a family helping them with the housework.

She met a boy and after 3 years of being together, they decided to move to Baru, where his family lived.

Oneida says that when she first arrived to Baru, she found it really similar to “Palacio” because of its friendly and welcoming people. But in Baru, she noticed an “air of progress” that convinced her to stay.

A few months later, Oneida found out she was pregnant. Her father in law wanted to help them, so he built them a small room and gave them some kilograms of rice, sugar beans, coffee as well as eggs and cooking oil, so that they could sell them and find a way of living.

This is how her store started 17 years ago. Today it has an independent space from the other house’s rooms, sells about 100 products and is called “Los hermanos Castro” or “The Castro brothers” in honor to their 3 children.

Oneida looks back and she realizes it hasn’t been an easy way, but despite all the difficulties she feels that their business is solid and that she has learned how to manage it. She is confident that their store will help them finish the second floor of their house and pay for their children studies in University.

Oneida in her store
Oneida in her store

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Martha
Martha

Martha started her business 4 years ago after watching her neighbors need to buy their groceries nearby. Her store’s name is “El Granito de Mostaza” or “The tiny mustard seed”. Roger, her husband, explained the store was named after their dream of having a grocery store, which started from zero to become bigger as it is today.

Martha’s desire to keep growing her business and her responsibility during her participation in the project, allow her to get another microcredit. Today, she and her husband not only own a store, but an apartment, thanks to their business, which has given all of them a better quality of life.

Martha and Roger’s children feel happy with their parents business growth and Katherine, her neighbor says they are really kind with their costumers and that in the store, she finds all she needs. 

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Nertalina with her children
Nertalina with her children

When I asked about Nertalina, her closest neighbor indicated an entrance that lead to the patio of her house. There, a woman, about one point seventy meters tall, with a turban on her head and casual clothes, said: “It is me”. Nertalina who had just washed and spread small clothes on wires, invited me to walk in and have a talk until her five months old daughter woke up.

Her oldest nephew defined her as a kind, cooperative woman, always willing to help her neighbors, friends and family, with a “stick for business”[1].

Nertalina, who is 42 years old and participated in the project “Microcredits for Baru island entrepreneurs”, has started various businesses always thinking on increasing her home’s incomes.

20 years ago, she started selling accessories; then she had a variety store, she sold clothes and finally she sold handicrafts. Now, she sells sodas and beers during the weekends in a spot next to her mother’s house.

Thanks to her business, she was able to increase her quality of life investing the income in remodeling her house, that used to have only one bedroom and that now has a kitchen, 2 bedrooms, a dinning room and a living room were she lives with her new partner and her children.

Looking at her new house’s walls she is confident that her business will continue to grow thanks to her hard work together with her family.

[1] “Stick for business” is an expression use to define someone that is really good at starting businesses.

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Sergio's handicrafts
Sergio's handicrafts

Sergio was borne in May, in the Rosario Islands, “The best place to grow up because of the calm you can even breath in and because of the sympathy of its people” as he remarks.

When he was a child he practically lived in the sea. He helped his parents with the tours they gave to people who came to the Island attracted by their white sand and crystalline water.

This trained him in a virtue that has helped him through all his life: Charisma.

When Sergio was 6, his parents died, so he went to live with one of his 14 siblings, who sold lobsters to tourists. Sergio also helped his brother in the afternoons after he finished all the homework they gave him in a school that only had elementary. Sergio repeated fifth grade 3 times because they didn’t have enough money to send him to middle school in the nearest town.

He learned mathematics. This helped him in the family business, in which he was in charge of the accounts.

A while later, he met Dunia, his beautiful greed eyed wife, and he moved to Baru (town) were they have lived since then.

Sergio started working in general services in a new hotel near Baru because he needed to watch after his wife and son. With his savings, he bought a boat and asked the hotel General Manager if he could work giving the tourists boat rides. The Manager accepted and a while after was very satisfied with Sergio’s work especially because of the way he treated the tourists.

5 years later, Sergio thought it was time for a change so he asked the hotel if he could sell handicrafts at the entrance, the ones he had always liked because he thinks are the reflex of the colors of his hometown. He sold the boat and bought everything he needed for the business.

This new business have given Sergio for 18 years the income needed to build this house in Baru, to educate his children (2) and he has even learned a little bit of English in order to offer the tourist the necklaces, purses, handbags and earrings he personally make, accompanied with a smile.

Sergio's business
Sergio's business

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Ariel and Edith
Ariel and Edith

A GOOD COMPLEMENT

We arrived at Ariel’s house the agreed day. We were welcomed by Edith, his wife, who told us that Ariel would arrive shortly. He had gone out for a minute.

Immediately, Edith pulled out us a chair and without asking served us delicious lemonade in a simple disposable glass with a straw cut in half.

At 11:45 am the costumers started to arrive. The menu of the day was rib soup and oil rice. The costumers asked Edith for one, two, three lunches, that she served generously.

While attending customers, she told us that the business was going very well. Just at that time Ariel came in, a little nervous he shacked hands with us and sat down. We asked him how this year had been for him, his family and his business and he immediately and confidently replied: excellent! He told us then that one of his daughters was about to graduate from high school and that he had been able to pay for his other daughter’s professional career without problems.

He told us that before they started the business, he worked as a waiter in Cartagena. Some hotels and private events called him sporadically, but one day he decided to try his luck in Baru as someone that worked with him told him about the island. That is how he settled in Santa Ana, about four years ago and began to sell juices.

Then he met Edith, his wife and partner, who already sold lunches and that is how, lunches and juices began to be sold together. As we speak, Edith did not stay still, she continues to serve lunchs, fold clothes and sell mainly sweets in their small Candy sale in which they invest when they received the credit.

Ariel and Edith are a couple that reflect peace. They are satisfied with their business and life. Every day at 7:00 am they open their business. In addition to lunch, they sell dinners. Sometimes there are so many customers that they work until 10:00 pm. In September, they finished paying for the loan they received. They always paid on time.

We wish them success and that their business continues to grow and be very prosperous.

Ariel and Edith at their business
Ariel and Edith at their business
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Organization Information

Fundacion Hernan Echavarria Olozaga

Location: Bogota / Cartagena, Cundinamarca/Bolívar - Colombia
Website:
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Project Leader:
Ana Milena Ordosgoitia
Bogota, Cundinamarca Colombia
$1,829 raised of $16,920 goal
 
66 donations
$15,091 to go
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