Maria used to be invisible. When people looked at her, they saw only poverty, not her personhood. Because of this, Maria wasn’t even given the chance to open a savings account. Others in her community were similarly marginalized, left on the wrong side of an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor.
Enduring Crisis After Crisis
Life was hard for Maria, and recent years in her home city of Guayaquil, Ecuador only worsened her situation.
First, there was the COVID-19 pandemic, which spread like wildfire through the city of 3 million. Then came the sudden rise of organized crime as war broke out between rival gangs, gangs which demanded money from businesses if they wished to keep their doors open. Soldiers continue to patrol the streets as the government tries to bring back peace and security to Guayaquil.
Despite these overwhelming hardships, Maria was resilient. Hopeful. Hardworking. With the help of her husband, she constructed and opened an ice cream parlor. However, while it helped to put food on her table, she didn’t have the tools to make her business sustainable. Maria began to wonder if she didn’t deserve a chance after all.
Taking a Chance on Partnership
Things changed when Maria met husband and wife partners of Partners Worldwide, Vanessa and Danny. Vanessa understood what it was like to live in poverty: as a child, she was sponsored by Compassion International. Today, she invests in others by facilitating business training through her foundation, EMFAP (Empowering Families with Purpose).
Vanessa and Danny worked to overcome the lies that society had told Maria. They helped Maria realize that she was made in the image of God. She had value. And she was a businesswoman worth investing in.
Putting Her Skills Into Practice
With mentoring from Vanessa and Danny, Maria began adding value to her store. Realizing that ice cream by itself was not enough to provide for her family, especially during Guayaquil’s cooler months, she added hamburgers to the menu. The hamburgers were a hit with her customers and have been key to keeping the restaurant afloat. Maria hopes to increase the sustainability of her business through the purchase of a fryer; soon, her customers will be able to order fries alongside their burger and ice cream.
Already Maria has become a light for her community in the middle of dark conditions, but she isn’t going to stop there. Through EMFAP, she plans on taking the PW microenterprise training, which will further give her the tools she needs to create a lasting presence in her community.
Creating Networks of Hope
It is because of you, the faithful PW network, that people like Maria can not only hope for a better future but make it possible. Every day, you empower hardworking, passionate people with the resources they need and the relationships to remind them of their value as people in the image of God. Thank you for believing in them, in us, and in our mission to create a world where everyone can thrive.