Pots bubble, bread rises, and tortillas simmer as Maria does what she does every day: builds a better life for her family. And makes plans expand her business. And dreams of enrolling herself in school for the first time.
If you were to ask Maria how old she is, she would reply (nonchalantly), “Sesenta y seis.” Maria is a 66 years old, and still an inspiring entrepreneur. She owns a small grocery store in Chapala, Mexico, where she makes ice cream, chips and bread to sell at her store and in the surrounding areas. Her husband, Angel, sells Maria’s products, as well as fruit and candy, at a local bus station. He also sells Maria’s goods to other grocery stores in the area.
Having been a client of Opportunity’s for years, Maria is now in her 13th loan cycle. She is in the Barrios Unidos (United Neighborhoods) Trust Group, and has paid back each of her loans. Her most recent loan was for $1,950 to expand her production capacity by making improvements to her kitchen. She needs more space and even second oven to meet the high demands for her food.
Maria and Angel have ten adult children and 36 grandchildren, most of whom rely on their financial support. With the help of Opportunity Mexico, she now employs two of her children, Joan Manuel and Victor. They both live at her house and help her to make bread each morning. Her daughter Maria Eugenia, who struggles with her health on a daily basis, also stays at her parent’s home and depends on their business’ profits to pay for her costly healthcare expenses. Maria hopes her profits will also her grandchildren to have everything she couldn’t offer to her children in their youth. Thankful for the opportunities given to her, she looks forward to equipping her grandchildren with the resources they need to follow their dreams.
But her determination does not end there. Having never attended school, she also plans to begin her studies, hoping that an education will enable her to further expand her business.
On the day this photo was taken, Maria chose to wear hot pink, a color that I think speaks volumes about the vivacity with which she lives her life.