This story is part of Kiva’s Dreams are Created Equal series. The first in our series comes from Asuncion, Paraguay:
Lourdes was only 18 when she says her world came crashing down around her. She had been working as a maid from the age of 14, contributing what little money she earned to her struggling mother and siblings.
Then she found out she was pregnant.
She was alone, cast aside by her family and the father of her child.
“I lost everything…my life totally changed with the pregnancy,” she says.
When her son, Victor, was born, Lourdes pieced together work, trying to keep their little family of 2 afloat.
“We supported ourselves with the little we had,” Lourdes says. “My son never got to use diapers because I didn’t even have enough to buy them.”
She decided to start her own business selling empanadas and snacks. That’s when she took out her first business loan of just over $60 U.S.
She set strict rules for herself to invest in her business and build savings.
Lourdes says her mantra at the time was, “I’m going to show his father that I’m worth more as a woman, that I don’t need a man at my side…And I’m going to prove it to my family as well who criticized me so much.”
But the business was not without tough challenges. Lourdes’ makeshift shop was not very secure and she was robbed 4 times in 2 months. She worked long hours and had to give up any social life.
Despite the struggles, she grew the business and continued to take and repay bigger and bigger loans, eventually receiving a $975 loan funded on Kiva by 33 lenders located all over the world, from Norway to Australia.
Lourdes used that money to buy more stock and a refrigerator, building the business to the point that she was able to move into a new, bigger shop. This one had a secure gate to prevent robberies and an attached home for her family.
“Everything that I am now, I am grateful for it,” Lourdes says. “I’m grateful to Kiva lenders, I know that they did their part to achieve my dream… I’m grateful from the bottom of my heart.”
She also has a message for other single moms in the world.
“Many people say that this is the worst that can happen to you. That it brands women,” Lourdes says. “But that isn’t true. To be a single mother gives you more strength, you want to fight even harder.”
Back a dream for a woman entrepreneur like Lourdes at kiva.org/dreams.