A loan of $1,075 helped purchase yarn, wool, lining fabric, slide fasteners, and clasps for making woven handbags.

Vitelia's story

Vitelia M. Meléndez is 54 years old and has two children, ages 28 and 30. Through her own efforts, she was able to study and gradually become successful in whatever she pursued. This woman lives in the town of San Jacinto in the Department of Bolivar, where she uses her loom to produce beautiful handicrafts such as hammocks and woven handbags. Many foreigners and Colombian residents are familiar with these items and have them in their homes and businesses. This trade is a tradition among the people of San Jacinto, so Vitelia continues the legacy. For the past eight years, she has been making bags, backpacks, individual table settings, as well as student uniforms.

Vitelia started her business after she won some prize money. She invested it in materials for making bags. Vitelia hired artisans and began generating sales, first in San Jacinto, and then she gradually opened new markets to the south in the Department of Bolivar and other cities in Colombia. Now when she ships products to her customers, they deposit their payments into her savings account.

As a mother and head of household, Vitelia is proud of being able to overcome challenges and move her children forward with the help of her business. She dreams of seeing them advance so that they can become successful professionals. Vitelia gives thanks to God that her situation has changed. Her son completed his studies and is now a teacher who contributes to the household income. Vitelia’s other son works since everyone is able to help. She owns her home and is able make repairs with the help of her children and the income from all of their efforts. By sustaining her business, she is able to keep herself employed.

This is her first loan with Fundación Mario Santo Domingo and she will use the funds to buy yarn for making bags, five bales of wool, fabric used for lining the bags, slide fasteners, and clasps. This investment promises to be a success because Vitelia is always able to sell what she produces in the city or ship her products to other regions of the country where her customers can hardly wait to see what she has created. Her business has three employees who work with her in her home. The products are sold to stores in the community as well as to customers in the south in the Department of Bolívar and other towns along the Caribbean coast. Vitelia’s business has very good cash flow. Her accounts indicate that she is able to collect payments each week. Most of her sales are made in cash, while almost all of her purchases for materials are paid in cash. However, there have been several instances when she does not have enough capital to buy everything she needs to respond to her customers. Vitelia manages a quick turnover of her finished goods so that they can be delivered immediately.

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Translated from Spanish by Kiva volunteer Ronan Reodica

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