A loan of $1,025 helped purchase merchandise & shelving.

César De Jesus's story

When visiting the shop of Cesar Vásquez, one does not think of Antioquia, the district located in northwest Colombia that is isolated by the Cordillera Central (one of three main branches of the Andean mountain range). The inhabitants of this area were forced to work hard to fend for themselves. Anyone living in “El Paisa” (which refers to the districts of Antioquia, Risaralda, Caldas, and Quindío located north of Cauca Valley and northwest of Tolima) had to find their own food from other parts of the country in order to survive. Their own culture developed as a result of their drive, perseverance, and backbreaking work before finally settling in an area in the heart of the country. When walking through the region of “El Paisa”, one can see the forms of entertainment that resulted such as horse races, bull fights, dances, ring games, cards, dice, roulette, tightrope walking, cock fights, and fireworks. For example, Tormenta, the name of the store owned by Cesar and his wife, is situated in an area of “El Paisa” where the region finds its identity. The store is located next to a horse riding club where the members and their families come to Cesar’s establishment to have fun and buy food, refreshments, and other products any time of day or night. Tormenta was named after a very special horse. Photographs of this beautiful specimen decorate the walls to the delight of its admirers, which makes Cesar’s store a perfect communal gathering place and an ideal place to visit for those coming from the neighboring region of Soledad Atlántico or from Barranquilla.

Cesar Vásquez describes himself as a person prone to succeed and willing to take risks. He is a 30 year old head of household and proprietor of his own store, located in the neighborhood of Centenario in the city of Soledad. He and his wife work together, hand in hand. Both of them are natives of Granada and Cáceres respectively. They have two children, ages 13 and 4, who are the driving force for them to become working professionals and have all the necessary tools to live independently, be persistent, progress in life, and overcome any obstacles.

Cesar is a striking image of his father who, like any Paisan, was an excellent worker who made good use of his expertise. He drove Cesar to study. In return, Cesar was inclined to work hard from a young age. He started working with his father in the fields, where he developed many of the skills he uses today. Cesar manages his business every day with what appears to be almost a natural ability.

Cesar is receiving his second loan from Fundación Mario Santo Domingo. When he started with the organization, it only had one location. With this loan, he plans to purchase shelving and merchandise. His success is attributed to serving the people from the poorest neighborhoods, who shop more at his store than at a supermarket. He likes the location of his business because of its many advantages. Cesar will use his loan of 2,000,000 COP to increase his inventory of groceries such as beans, potatoes, grain, rice, and lentils.

Beyond that, his dream is to establish a large supermarket chain and aspires that God will give him such an opportunity in his work. With the profits from his business, he is able to cover his expenses and pay for Social Security for himself and his family so that they can continue to have a decent lifestyle. Cesar and his wife know that their efforts are not in vain because their honest labor will build a better life and future for themselves and their children.

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Translated from Spanish by Kiva volunteer Ronan Reodica

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