MYTH 6: WOMEN CAN'T BE TRUSTED WITH MONEY

MYTH 6: WOMEN CAN'T BE TRUSTED WITH MONEY

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Posted
10/11/13

LOOKING FORWARD: Maria Landa, Peru

Maria Landa built her career with iron; the iron she holds in her hand and the iron will that has helped her triumph over tired stereotypes and steep odds.

Landa is CEO of a busy welding company on the outskirts of Peru's capital, Lima. She started on the path to becoming Peru's first-known woman welder at, of all places, an all-girls Catholic school where she was taught how to fix cars. The nuns who ran the school refused to accept the notion that auto-mechanics was for boys. Maria's interest in metal and machines was nurtured by her father and mother, who enrolled her in a free welding course for disadvantaged youth.

When Maria graduated from the welding course, she decided to start a business. There were hardly any welders on her side of town. She tried to get loans to start a business but was turned down.

"We were in a profession not held by women," Landa says. "Banks couldn't believe women would weld."

Unbowed, Landa kept searching until she found a $10,000 small business loan through a CARE microfinance program. Her business took off quickly. She paid off the loan in a year and hasn't looked back. Soon Santa Maria Industries was a growing metal work business so successful that Fortune and McKinsey & Company invited her to global seminars to talk about her business.

As impressive as Landa's business savvy is, even more remarkable is her generous determination to share the fruits of her success. When an 8.0 earthquake in August 2007 left 40,000 homeless in Pisco, Peru, Landa built more than 1,000 tents for homeless families and 100 large school tents so kids could have a place to learn while their schools were rebuilt.

"I have the physical abilities and mind to think and realize my dreams," she says. "We can make big things happen with a lot of little things."

LOOK BACK

Once when I was working, a father walked by with his children, and he stopped to tell them, 'Look at this woman. She can do it, and so can you!'

- Maria Landa

SOURCES: 1 Center for Women’s Business Research, “The Economic Impact of Women-Owned Businesses in the United States,” October 2009. Photo Credit: © 2007 Ami Vitale/CARE.

 © 2007 Ami Vitale/CARE

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