• Lima
  • Area: Humanitarian aid

Starting a business with a smile

Juana* was forced to leave Venezuela because of her country’s economic crisis. In the time she had been living in Peru, almost three years, she made a living by selling coffee and cakes on the streets, pushing them around in a market shopping trolley. The situation was very hard, her husband only had odd jobs and she was pregnant.

During my pregnancy, there were times when I only ate once a day, we’d fall behind on our rent. If it wasn’t our rent, it was the utility bills. They told us we had to pay, if we didn’t, they’d throw us out. I was close to my delivery date and there were several things I didn’t have the money for…

The voice of Save the Children

That was when a friend mentioned the work that Save the Children was doing through the program “Assistance for the well-being and inclusion of migrant and refugee families in Peru”. She sent her a WhatsApp link to complete a questionnaire which Juana* completed, filled with hope.

Shortly after, they contacted her and with them Juana* found a friendly voice. The psychosocial support they offered her helped her to get out of the depression she was suffering while, at the same time, she received nutritional advice to help improve her pregnancy.

Juana* worked until a day before giving birth which coincided with the start of the quarantine in Peru due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020. Not long after, Save the Children contacted her again to find out how she was doing.

They gave me advice about nutrition, how to look after the baby (…) I began to feel a little calmer (…) Thank God this organization came to my life, to guide me, in a certain way, to believe a little more and to learn to listen to people.

Ready to start a business!

Juana*’s opportunity came when they offered her to enter the program in the Livelihoods sector, where she could take a few courses focused on starting a small business. She learned about promotion through social media, how to collect payments, how much to invest, how to generate a profit, and started to apply these to her small business. Nevertheless, she didn’t have many resources to make it grow.

Juana* felt enormous joy upon being told that she had been selected as a winner in the contest “Mi pana, ¡emprende!” (“My friend, start a business!”) Thanks to this initiative, she was given seed capital (financial aid) to focus on her pastry business and invest in the elements that she needed.

At that moment, we only had 170 soles, and rent was due, the baby’s diapers… and I say that this was a miracle from God, and miracles do exist when you have lots of faith to do things. Straightaway he told me (the Save the Children staff member): go and pick up the money and do things for your family.

Paying it forward

Without a doubt, for Juana* the most important contribution Save the Children made to her life is to have given her the possibility to pay it forward.

This organization has come to me in many ways, not only to my home, but it’s also come to my family and friends (…) The sale of sweets has helped me help others, there’s always something to do, something to invent, someone to help, like Save the Children helped me.

Juana* believes that one of the most important things that she’s learned since she arrived in Peru has been to have a business mindset and continue fighting despite adversities.

People here have taught me to be very business-minded, that despite having difficult days, we have to solve tomorrow’s necessities, but always with a smile. That’s how it has to be, so we mustn’t abandon our dreams, because if I succeeded, many others can too.

*The name has been changed due to our Safeguarding Policy.

About the project

The project “Assistance for the well-being and inclusion of migrant and refugee families in Peru” has been implemented by Save the Children with support from the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA /USAID). This intervention aims to provide humanitarian assistance to Venezuelan families who were forced to leave their country due to the serious economic crisis. The cornerstones of the project are: protection through psychosocial support; nutrition and health; livelihoods through the strengthening of skills to start a business or access a job; as well as humanitarian aid to cover the family’s minimum expenses for food, shelter, and clothing.

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