A loan of $1,025 helped purchase refreshments & restock her store with school supplies.

Elva Maria's story

At 70 years of age, Elva María R. D. C. is an active woman who lives in the neighborhood of Buenos Aires. She enjoys Carnival season, the time of year when a picturesque atmosphere sets the background for the most important cultural festival in the city. The Carnival of Barranquilla is also one of the happiest occasions in Colombia. Its popular and carefree style reflects the youthful spirit and creativity of the people of Barranquilla, making it an essential part of the Caribbean.

Once the Christmas holidays are over, Elva María and her daughter begin organizing her home business with all the decorations pertaining to Carnival, a mixture of the modern with the more traditional type that reflects the event’s origins. The tradition of Carnival was brought to the Americas from Spain and continues to promote the spirit of renewal and change that inspired this holiday season in Europe.

In addition to being known for her cheerful personality, Elva María is an enterprising woman who prepares snacks such as fried foods maD. of flour, arepas (flatbread served with various fillings or toppings), and caribañolas (dumplings maD. of cassava and potato dough, stuffed with meat and vegetables). She sells these snacks to stores and individually to neighbors in her area. Elva María also has a retail shop in her home that is stocked with stationery and various seasonal accessories worn by women and girls.

Her snack business was a tradition passed on to her by her mother, who also prepared these same products for sale. Elva María has added the most delicious desserts to her offerings, as she loves the art of cooking. She also sells sancocho (a traditional soup), but she noticed that many people in the neighborhood started prospering, so she suspended selling food temporarily so that she could open and organize the retail shop in her home. When this business started, her husband Joaquin C. traveled frequently for work since he was employed by a shipping company. Running a home business helped to make her feel that she was not alone. Today, her husband is retired and enjoys a peaceful and happy life.

Elva María has received three previous loans from Fundación Mario Santo Domingo and has repaid them all on time. She used the proceeds to purchase miscellaneous goods and supplies for preparing food at different times of the year: Christmas, Carnival season, Easter, etc. With the profits generated by her business, she has managed to make repairs and modifications to her home because her husband’s pension was used to pay for the completion of the work. This freed up her income to devote on other expenses such as food and services. Their joint incomes have also contributed to the success of her business. Her next loan in the amount of 2,000,000 COP will be used to stock her store with school supplies. She also plans to sell drinks, such as delicious and healthy juices, and popsicles maD. with milk and fruit and packed in plastic bags. Her customers will soon be able to taste these delightful treats in order to cool down from the high temperatures experienced on the Coast.

Elva María’s goal for her family in the midterm is to acquire a place at a commercial site so that she can use her home for storing the display cases that hold the merchandise displayed before customers. Her short-term goal is to buy a hot dog cart with a canopy; a bread and sausage steamer; inserts with lids for keeping onions, cheese, and potatoes; stainless steel containers for holding sauces; and an interior cupboard for storing bread. These items will be installed at the entrance of her business, which is already known for selling food and hosting the most anticipated costume party for the residents of the neighborhood, the famous “Lunes D. Carnaval” that occurs on the third day of Carnival season. The party starts with the appearance of a large pick-up truck equipped with a sound box, six loudspeakers, two columns, three machines, eight transistors, an equalizer, and a three CD disk changer. The group “El Millo” begins the festivities with traditional Caribbean folk music. In this district of Barranquilla, this annual neighborhood tradition is now known as “the Party with the Cuetos”, named after Elva María’s family. The attendees of this great rumba festival only pay for the food and beverages offered by Elva María, so she is able to enjoy the party and still earn a little money.

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Translated from Spanish by Kiva volunteer Ronan Reodica

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