3 Colombian women kick-starting community businesses

Look out Colombia! There’s a new wave of women taking the lead in business and creating their own success, thanks to support from Because I am a Girl Project Sponsorship.

Meet 3 young women who have used Plan-supported livelihood training and entrepreneurship programs to help them take their futures into their own hands and kick-start successful businesses in their communities:

1. Catherine

People in Catherine’s community know that her fresh food stand, Bocaditos Boquilleros, is the hot spot in town. Thanks to skills training, a strong business plan and a fryer that she purchased with Plan’s assistance, along with her own incredible determination – Catherine has established a devoted client base.

Catherine cooks up delicious food!

Some of Catherine’s dishes include empanadas stuffed with cheese, chorizo sausage with arepa (a ground maize flatbread), and tostones, a delicious Latin American staple made of fried green plantain topped with garlic or hot sauce.

“She’s an inspiration,” says Plan Canada’s Maria Paula, who visited Catherine and saw her growing enterprise. “I was so impressed – not only with the food, which was delicious, but with her energy and dedication. She does everything by herself.”

Indeed, Catherine even built her own food stall with wood she got from a local scrapyard. Constantly cleaning and sweeping to maintain an inviting environment, her pride of ownership is evident to everyone who passes by. So it’s no surprise that a year and a half since launching, her business is still going strong.

2. Marleidys

Marleidys displays her cooking.

Marleidys lives in a rural region of Colombia. After taking one of Plan’s entrepreneurship courses, she was inspired to start and run a fast-food business from the terrace of her home. Now, her stand is open daily for business, and she often sells out fast!

Two years later, and as her business continues to thrive, a life of self-sufficiency and financial independence becomes a closer reality for Marleidys – bringing new hope to every tomorrow.

3. Mayerlis

Mayerlis paints a customer’s nails.

In her remote community in Colombia, Mayerlis saw an opportunity to work as a beauty consultant and went for it. After participating in a Plan-supported course, she received training and resources that helped strengthen her aesthetic-based business.

Armed with tools for success, her business has been operating for over 3 years – providing her with income to improve her own living conditions, while also positively contributing to the community.

Reaching even more girls and women

Wonderful testaments to the life-changing power of our programs, these 3 women are now role models for girls and women in their communities. Like these women, many participants in our program come from some of the poorest and most conflict-affected communities in this South American country. For many it’s the first real chance they’ve had to change their lives for the better.

Unfortunately, over 33% of Colombians live in extreme poverty. School dropout rates are high and violence – particularly against women – is a serious issue.

But thanks to the support of our generous partners and donors, livelihood training programs like these are enabling women all over the country to become catalysts for change. Now that they’re equipped with marketable skills, they’re better positioned to secure employment, start a business, gain financial stability and plan for success.

Getting down to business, to uplift lives

So far, hundreds have taken part in these livelihood programs, including:

  • More than 300 youth and adults, who took part in an intensive and wide-ranging program on small business essentials, including entrepreneurship, book keeping, and the basics of business plan development
  • Roughly 1,000 youth who received technical and financial support in income generation, sport or artistic initiatives
  • Nearly 60 youth who received financial support for post-secondary education in such areas as social work, agribusiness, early childhood education, computing and accounting.
Image of a girl creating jewelry, next to the earrings she has produced.

Over 600 youth participated in technical training workshops on either jewelry-making, aesthetics, or cooking, along with classes to help them develop important business skills

Women such as Catherine, Marleidys and Mayerlis prove that when we invest in the young women of Colombia, they won’t just improve their own lives: they’ll enrich their entire communities.

When we work together to help girls reach their full potential, we fuel change by helping them break the cycle of poverty and begin a cycle of progress – contributing to a brighter future for all.

Sponsor the Because I am a Girl project today!