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A Cook’s Journey from Employee to Business Woman

a woman in a red shirt in front of a wall with pictures of different foods

At nearly sixty years old, Gladys had seen thousands of mornings. More than twenty thousand, to be precise. Some had been cold, some dark, some bright and beautiful. But among them, one stands out as pivotal in her journey to becoming a businesswoman: the morning when Gladys rose from her bed, struck by a sudden sense of purpose. 

All her life, Gladys had worked in restaurants, where she was able to live out her passion for cooking. And though she had never been able to afford a house, this steady employment enabled Gladys to look after her adult daughter and a young boy who had been left in her care. It seemed that life would continue as usual until the day she retired.  

Then, one year ago, she woke up one morning and had a sudden realization: “I don’t want to be an employee anymore.” What Gladys felt called to was to start her own business. 

Attracting Unwanted Attention 

As a resident of El Guabo, a coastal town in southern Ecuador, Gladys knew just what to sell: fish. Once she had acquired a rental property, Gladys began selling fried fish to hungry customers in the city.  

A self-titled expert at cooking fish, it was of no surprise that her new business was attracting attention. But violence in her area left Gladys feeling unsafe. Although she ultimately chose to close her doors, she didn’t give up.

Connecting with the PW Network 

Since 2014, El Oro Partners—a local partner of Partners Worldwide—has served entrepreneurs in the region where Gladys lives. She’d known of their work for years, and yet it wasn’t until she identified herself as a businesswoman that she became connected with them.  

Through El Oro Partners, Gladys took the PW microenterprise curriculum, where she became closer to God and learned more about finances. Upon completion of the training, she presented her business plan and was awarded a loan to re-launch her business. 

Gladys Ecuador 2

The Corner of Flavor 

Today, Gladys operates a restaurant in the local bus terminal—a safe, public location where she doesn’t have to worry about threats or violence. Called “La Esquina del Sabor” (The Corner of Flavor), her restaurant sells traditional meat-and-rice dishes and employs both her daughter and another woman.  

In the two months since opening her new restaurant, Gladys has already seen a boost in profits, enabling her to save money that she couldn’t before. With this new income, she has been able to send her adopted son to school. Someday soon, she hopes, she will have enough to buy a house of her own. 

“God is amazing at making miracles,” says Gladys.  


Gladys Ecuador

Multiply the Lights 

Gladys’ story is possible because of the generosity of people like you. Join us in multiplying the light of entrepreneurs like her by making a gift today.