Talking to strangers

Adelante clients are fantastic, hard working women with amazing life stories! They endure challenges life throws at them with happiness and optimism. When I visit an assembly, I always wonder how all these amazing women ended up together. This is Angela’s story.

Angela Amaya

Angela Amaya is a very kind and timid lady. She is 64-years old.  She is married with one child and two grandchildren. Angela has a prosperous business in her home, which allows her to stay home and help her daughter by taking care for her grandchildren while their mother works. But life has not always been this easy for Angela.

Angela lives in Orica, a community in the department of Colon. Orica is a very rural community without stores, supermarkets, schools or hospitals, and most of the houses are sparsely located. The closest town with these commodities is Tocoa, which is a thirty minute bus ride. Since most people in Orica do not have cars, they depend on others for transportation.

Before having a business at home, Angela sold used clothing in her community, walking from house to house to sell her merchandise. She would also take the bus to visit other communities like hers to sell her products. She used to work extremely hard for minimal profit.  Angela also provided credit to many people in her community, which ultimately led to the bankruptcy of her clothing resale business.

One day, as she was taking the bus to Tocoa, a young woman, Mercedes, sat next to her. They swapped stories of their current jobs – Angela’s frustrations and Mercedes’ success.  Mercedes told Angela about her role as a credit officer for the Adelante Foundation and invited her to come to the next assembly in two weeks. The assembly was close to Angela’s community and she agreed to come.

At the assembly, after learning about the program, Angela decided to join a solidarity group and apply for her first loan. The other group members advised her to start a convenience store in her home because there wasn’t one in Orica. She took her first loan for $100 and started a new business. Her small store was very successful and soon she needed more capital to restock her store and buy different products. She then took out a second loan for $200, followed by a third one for $360.

Today, Angela’s business has turned into one of the community’s strongest. She sells over-the-counter medicines, shampoos, detergent, diapers, flour, rice, beans, and sodas. Her convenience store is very useful because now community members do not have to travel to another town to get these products. It has also been very convenient for Angela because she does not have to walk by foot to sell her products.

Angela finds humor in how starting a conversation with a complete stranger helped change and improve her life. It’s hard for Angela to imagine what she would be doing for money now if she had never met Mercedes and heard about the program.  She says that her life has improved incredibly since she started her new business. With the profits generated from her convenience store, she was able to give the down payment for a piece of land and is able to pay the monthly quotas. She is also able to stay home and live a more comfortable life. There are many more stories like Angela’s, women that heard from a friend, or a stranger, about this program and gave it a shot and today are successful business women. Stories like Angela’s keep Adelante working hard to continually improve our program!

By: Marcela Reyes

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