A Business Woman and Mother

Glady’s Escalente, most people refer to her as Sandra, has been an Esperanza Associate since 2005. She is a single mother of seven children as well as the guardian of her grandchild. Sandra manages her home and sends her children to school all while running a small business selling empanadas in her local community of San Pedro. 

Financial, Family, and Emotional Struggle

Sandra started off her empanada business with many struggles. Financially, she was materially poor, having little to spare day by day. “It was bad. It was very bad”, Sandra said as she described the state of her financial situation. Though initially her husband helped supply income to the family, he eventually left Sandra leaving her to sell empanadas in her home and in the streets on her own.

Every penny went to covering food and the children’s school fees and uniforms. It is very important to Sandra that her children earned a quality education and so that always came first.

Sandra expressed that the combination of her financial situation and struggle maintaining a household with little money left her feeling very bad about herself. Her house suffered, she struggled, and much of her hope was lost.  

That is, until Sandra found Esperanza.

“I don’t like to feel defeated. I like to move forward. I don’t like for people to have to support me. I like to work.”

Hope Restored, Business Flourishing

We asked Sandra what gave her the ability to keep fighting and moving forward while feeling such despair She responded, “I don’t like to feel defeated. I like to move forward. I don’t like for people to have to support me. I like to work.”

Sandra founded a Banco de Esperanza (BDE) believing that the opportunity to join a Microfinance Institution meant investment in the future growth of her business and of those in her community.

Upon starting her first lending group in 2005, Sandra was responsible for gathering women for bi-weekly meetings, collecting and counting their payments, and preparing for meeting discussions. She developed disciplines in organization and responsibility and was motivated to complete her tasks with excellence.

Sandra’s first loan with Esperanza was 1000 pesos ($22 USD) of which she used for empanada ingredients such as flour, butter, and oil. As Sandra progressed she started saving from the business revenue to invest in more substantial materials including a new store, refrigerator, and packaged snacks.  

The empanada business slowly but surely began to flourish, and Sandra noticed tremendous differences in her life as a result. Sandra explained, “my friend told me to invest more in the business so that I could save. Also, Esperanza teaches you how to keep track of your expenses. So from there, it started going really well for me – because at the end of the loan cycle, I was able to take out a [new] loan and also take a part of my savings…things started improving!” 

A major accomplishment of Sandra was paying for her granddaughter’s medical expenses when she was sick. She was elated to be able to help. Eventually Sandra reached a point in her borrowing where she was eligible for an individual loan. These loans are available to Associates that “graduate” from a community to a bank loan. Individual loans are larger in size, and require one-on-one meetings with Loan Officers for repayment.

With her individual loan, Sandra worked toward home improvement for her family and began to experience hope in her life.

Looking Forward 

Looking into the future Sandra feels optimistic. She dreams of changing the city for good by growing her business and offering employment to at-risk youth. A life that felt broken and impossible, is now full of dreams for the future. 

By Esperanza International

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