by Ashley Nelsen
Do you think you could you start a thriving general store from a single 25 pound sack of sugar? Gloria María Ramírez Herrera did and recently told me how. Unwilling to sign her house as collateral for a traditional bank loan, she knew she would have to start her business on her own, and start small. Gloria saved up little by little and purchased a single 25 pound sack of sugar and began selling it out of the front window of her house. That’s where the MFI Asociación Alternativa Para el Desarrollo Integral de las Mujeres (ADIM) stepped in to assist. Gloria used her first ADIM loan to purchase rice, cooking oil, coffee, and yes- more sugar.
Today after 4 loans with ADIM, Gloria has the busiest store in her neighborhood and sells so many things I stopped writing down the items after: ice, drinks, oil, rice, sugar, cooking oil, cookies, toilet paper, soup, candy, chips, soda, popsicles, fruits, vegetables, hair ties, gel, combs, shoe polish, electrical tape, coffee, make-up, socks, medicine, pens, pencils, and notebooks- hand cramp. Surprisingly, there is nothing too unique about Gloria’s business story, in fact all the entrepreneur’s I have interviewed as a Kiva Fellow in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua always started the same- saving to purchase one particular item in bulk.
Despite entrepreneurial skills, and dedicated work ethic many entrepreneurs are a single business mistake, illness, or natural disaster away from starting at square one. ADIM/Kiva assists clients by what I like to describe as giving ‘oomph’ to these entrepreneurs. With their loan (oomph) they are able to quickly expand their business, increase savings, and diversify their merchandise. These factors assist in the sustainability of their business, as well as rebound from a business problem.
Gloria for the first time in her life has savings, and has plans to make constructional improvements to her store in the future./>