Lourdes grew up in Lima Peru, but moved to Ecuador as a young adult to build her future. She met her partner and started a family. When her partner grew violent, she left with her two young sons and returned to Lima to live with her mother. Lourdes left behind everything that she and her sons owned to build a new life together.
She started working as a day laborer in Lima, but her wages barely covered food for her family and transportation to and from work.
Lourdes knew she could earn a better living, sewing and selling clothes. But she could not save money needed to buy materials and still cover her family’s basic living expenses. She sought a loan from the local bank, but they turned her away. She didn’t have the required documents, collateral and credit history to qualify for a loan.
Lourdes learned of the village bank model from a woman in her community who had joined a lending group led by our partner Alternativa. Lourdes was invited to join the group. She secured a $100 loan to buy fabric and sewing materials to start making clothing.
Four years later, she is now earning almost $12,000 per year. Through multiple loans and the solidarity of her village bank group, today Lourdes is using her income to grow her business and build a permanent home for her family.
“Women always look for ways to go forward. I say, ‘Wow!’ How did I do this? I thought I wouldn’t be able to.”
GP’s Women-Centered Finance with Education investment initiative invests in partners like Alternativa who not only provide financial services through the village bank model, they also provide business education and life skills. These empower clients like Lourdes to make the most of their loans and savings. Alternativa manages hundreds of village banks in the hillside slums around Lima. Thousands of women like Lourdes learn how to start a business, grow their income and save money, and most importantly, they are empowered to pursue their dreams.
Today, Lourdes shares a workshop and living space in her mother’s home. Her father worked in construction, and he taught her how to build. She is very proud to be building her own home next door, with “my own two hands,” she says. Her goals are to finish her home, run her business and care for her sons.