*originally posted on Kiva https://bit.ly/3vCv8sH
Shown above are the faces of many women entrepreneurs of Kiva Puerto Rico
Below Ana Maria Cintron tells the story of her work with KivaPR and shares stories of a few enterprising females who have been funded by Kiva loans.
I have met amazing global citizens: borrowers, lenders, and partners who have been willing to help entrepreneurs succeed in Puerto Rico.
In February 2017, I celebrated one year with Kiva Puerto Rico as Kiva PR Catalyst and Small Business Advisor helping to bring new borrowers to Kiva in Puerto Rico. This journey has brought me countless smiles! Through it, I have been able to advise entrepreneurs about their best option for obtaining access to capital. In addition, I have been able to connect them with community partners and with each other.
I've experienced and enjoyed every minute of the expansion of our Kiva community!
The significant need for access to capital from our local businesses has contributed to the growth in micro-lending experienced by Kiva PR. There is a huge entrepreneurial movement happening with the intention of improving the island's economy, which has served as the backbone of our day to day borrower growth. In order to assist its entrepreneurs, Kiva PR relies on the help of trusted partners, such as Fundacion Banco Popular which has provided free seminars and resources to our funded and potential borrowers so they can continue to excel. We have also received great support from Foundation for Puerto Rico, Santurce Pop, and Efecto Sombrilla who have connected us to leads and have embraced our growth.
When I noticed International Women's Day was just around the corner, the smiles from women who have borrowed from Kiva crossed my mind.
Kiva PR has helped over 50 entrepreneurs obtain loans by working with the great community of partners, such as those noted above. Among this group of borrowers are many women who have trusted us to provide them with business advice, resources, access to capital, an online marketplace to export their products, connections, and a global network. These entrepreneurial leaders are moving our local economy ahead by creating great businesses and creating jobs.
Here are just a few of the stories from the courageous women entrepreneurs whom Kiva has helped fund in Puerto Rico:
"I was raised in Miramar - an awesome place to grow up. My mother and grandmother were both entrepreneurs who developed balms and beauty products. From a young age, I learned about different herbs and flowers and what they did to the human body. Now I have won 9 awards for my Aje water including the Smithsonian best new product award. I am very excited for what the future will bring, and hopefully I can achieve what mom and grandma could not: a storefront." - Mercedes, Aje Artisan Botanica , Dorado PR. Mercedes is using her Kiva loan to expand sales of her organic wellness products.
"My name is Ely Lugo. I was born in San Germain. Through my creative process, I always include a positive message to share with the world. I want to be an example for my family and for Puerto Rico. There is always an opportunity to make your dreams come true. Despite having obstacles and challenges in your life, there is always the chance to start again and contribute positively to make the world a better place every day." - Ely, Ely Lugo Art, Carolina PR. Ely is using her Kiva loan to purchase inventory to produce more art.
"I am cultivating in my backyard natural and organic products to serve when the truck is ready to be in use. I am planting limoncello, basil, rosemary, aloe, Jamaica flower, kale, mizuna, peppers, tuna, turmeric, and a variety of other medicinal plants. In addition to the healthy meals, I would build the truck with a solar system to free the environment from fuel emissions. Moreover, I would like to include seminars to share with our neighbors the knowledge I have acquired of health, food, and medicinal plants."- Betzaida, Finca La Yuca & Cocina Campesina, Garrochales PR. Betzaida is using her Kiva loan to promote nutrition through ecological farming.
"I single-handedly create dozens of gallons of ice-cream every time we participate on a food truck fest. Every day is an opportunity to create great things. TichÃn and I found our calling. Cool Hope Ice-cream is open for business and we are sharing our dream with the Community." - Maria, Cool Hope Artisan Ice Cream, San Juan PR. Maria is using her Kiva loan to launch an ice cream truck business in San Juan.
Kiva PR expects to continue giving access to capital to entrepreneurs through loans of up to $10,000 at 0% interest which we hope will assist another 50 borrowers over the next months. For more stories about Puerto Rican entrepreneurs, please follow Kiva Puerto Rico on Facebook to enjoy our upcoming campaign, The Many Faces of Kiva PR. We will be highlighting a borrower each week to demonstrate how awesome they all are.