Life hasn’t always been easy for Maria Elena, who is from Trujillo, Peru. “Education has been a barrier,” she says. “Being the last daughter of a family of seven children and a single mother at an early age, I did not have many educational opportunities and that is why I dedicated myself to work.”
Maria Elena is fiercely proud of how far she has come and says her biggest achievement is enabling her children to access education. “Fighting for my three children and putting my son through university is very important to me,” she says.
“Right now we need more access to money, to be able to sell more merchandise and get to wholesale.”
Through CARE’s Ignite Program, supported by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Maria Elena and many other Peruvian entrepreneurs like her will have new opportunities to grow their businesses. By partnering with bank Financiera Confianza and training partners Fundacion Capital and Oliver, CARE Peru will be able to open up access to capital for entrepreneurs, as well as access to skills development, including those much-needed digital skills.
Maria Elena’s advice to other women considering starting a business: “Every business is good; you just have to be constant, you have to cope with bad days, don’t get frustrated and have a lot of patience to move forward.”
As for the future, Maria Elena has ambitions to grow. “I want to switch my business from retail to wholesale so that I can sell more volume to other small businesses,” she says.