A loan of $1,100 helped repairing 2 washing machines and buying tables for her Internet café and merchandise to stock her display case for Valentine's and Friendship Days.

Elsie De Dios's story

Elsie O. A. is always busy doing something productive, because she moves easily from one activity to another, and this is part of her daily routine. She has several businesses: she runs an Internet café, where she offers telecommunications services and also rents washing machines; she has a display case where she sells merchandise; and if that weren't enough, she prepares fried foods, skewers, "fingers" and little empanadas, and she also makes the most delicious fruit-flavored ice creams in her neighborhood, which is located near La Playa.

Recently, two of her washing machines have been malfunctioning. She needs to repair them, and she also needs to replace the tables in her Internet café. However, at the same time, she needs to prepare herself with enough new merchandise to sell, especially for Valentine's Day and Friendship Day, which is coming up soon. For this reason, she is requesting a Kiva loan in the amount of 2,000,000 COP to achieve this.

Her entrepreneurial career began 10 years ago, when a Sister of Charity in a religious community, the director of a school, suggested that she organize an associative group to prepare preserved food in the township of La Playa. Thus, with other neighbors, she received technical training in food preparation and also came to the Mario Santo Domingo Foundation for technical advice in standardizing and diversifying their products. They also learned how to manage their business administratively, in order to gain access to loans. This business went very well, but Elsie found that the heat caused her many health problems, and she had to abandon this work and look for other alternatives. Thus, some 5 years later, she was preparing preserved foods and ice cream in her own home, and three years after that, she applied for an individual loan from the Foundation to buy washing machines. Through her work and with the help of 6 loans, she has been able to set up a shop in her home and has added other services such as the Internet café, which now has 2 more computers and generates work not only for Elsie herself, but also for a niece and her husband. The latter helps her with the transportation of the washing machines, because he works independently in a field that is highly seasonal, and much of the time he has to wait around for opportunities to work.

Elsie has two sons; one is a systems engineer, and the other is studying to become a culinary technician. She affirms that her family is very united, and because of this, with hard work and great efforts, they have been able to get ahead. However, she still remembers the first impetus given to her by Sister Olì, the nun at the church, who brought her into contact with the Foundation, and she appreciates this very much.

Her goal now is to officially register her business and expand it, but she is currently facing the challenge of finding an Internet provider that offers her better service than her current one. Elsie is pictured in her Internet cafe.

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Translated from Spanish by Kiva volunteer Patricia Linderman

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