Inocencia Gomez is a strong woman with a happy spirit and a loving heart. This mother of five children operates a sewing business – creating sheets, curtains, furniture and much more for her community – and sells beauty products on the side.
Hard work has brought this woman a life she loves, but she has not always experienced such happiness.
With the first loan from Esperanza of only $45 dollars, she took the reins of her business and became the author of her own success. The capital enabled Inocencia to buy whole rolls of cloth for the first time, which greatly increased the efficiency of her business and the value of her products.
Over the course of twelve years and with the help of twenty loans, Inocencia continued working and growing her company. She increased her creditworthiness enough to buy a motorcycle, which allowed her to sell her handicrafts in multiple locations including a nearby beach for tourists.
With each loan, Inocencia’s business improved. She bought new equipment and higher quality fabrics, making her business one of the premier sewing operations in her community.
With each improvement came increased profitability, enabling Inocencia to provide a better life for herself and her family. “Now I can buy my food without credit. I’m much better because, with Esperanza, I’ve remodeled my house. Look at the little kitchen I’ve started.”
Inocencia even has enough money to help others in her community, often helping to pay for funerals for those whose families cannot afford them.
As for her future, Inocencia has high hopes for her and her children. “I always hope to live better than how I live now and to help my children live a better life than I had.”
From our latest stories of hope at Soap Hope, we learn about Pastora – the King of Refrigeration.
A born entrepreneur, Pastora’s story of hope began a few years ago. Pastora ran a small business selling food items to members of her community in the Dominican Republic. However, without the capital to make repairs and ensure the safety of her food supply, she was forced to close down her business.
In 2007, Pastora’s life changed when she obtained her first loan of 7,000 Dominican Pesos (about $185 USD) from Esperanza International and opened a tiny ‘tienda’, or shop, selling shoes.
Esperanza: Creating Stories of Hope
Esperanza’s mission is to eliminate poverty in the Dominican Republic. Their approach is to provide more than just financial support. They also support their microfinance loan recipients with education, training, health, and hygiene services.
Esperanza’s mission to help children and families facing poverty pairs perfectly with our mission at Soap Hope. Today, our partnership is fruitful and thriving, as evidenced by other stories of hope like that of Bienvenida.
As a result of the partnership between Soap Hope, Esperanza, and You, we are able to impact the lives of women around the world – women like Pastora.
The Rest of Pastora’s Story
Pastora has a knack for understanding the needs of her community. She has been able to adjust her business model to the changing demands of her customers and the resources available to her.
She still recalls closing her first venture due to food spoilage – a huge problem for businesses in the hot climate of the Dominican Republic. That’s why Pastora decided to open a shoe business with her loan, a product that would not have to contend with the Dominican heat.
A few years after opening her tienda selling shoes, Pastora expanded her lines of business to sell refrigeration repair equipment. Today, “The King Refrigeracion” is thriving, and Pastora has more plans to expand in the future.
In addition to the loans Pastora received to launch and grow her businesses, she has benefited from other services provided through Esperanza — benefits like dental and health insurance for her family — things that would otherwise be difficult to come by in her area.
Pastora also loves attending the business trainings that Esperanza organizes near her home. She is thankful to the organization for providing her with “abrir una puerta para trabajar,” or, “an open door to work.”
A Partnership of Hope
Esperanza is committed to alleviating poverty in and around the Dominican Republic. Soap Hope is dedicated to lifting women from poverty through organizations like Esperanza. Together, we are able to impact the lives of women like Pastora. But we can only do it with you.
A single bar of soap can fund a woman’s business for two days. Imagine how many days you could fund simply by skipping the store and purchasing all of your body care and house cleaning products online at Soap Hope.
When we make the choice as business owners and consumers to direct our money into world-changing social causes, we write a new chapter in the stories of hope for women who may not have had a chance to escape poverty otherwise.
Esperanza, Soap Hope, and You – making the greatest impact, together. What stories of hope will you write today?
It’s important to us at Soap Hope to make a greater impact.
Our mission incorporates both our dedication to providing natural and safe products for our customers, as well as our commitment to making opportunities available to underprivileged women around the world.
We do that by partnering with organizations like Esperanza International, a nonprofit that focuses on freeing children and their families from poverty.
That’s where Salah met Bienvenida, an entrepreneur who was able to grow her business through her own determination and with support from funds that she received.
“She started with nothing but vision and commitment,” Salah said. “With the support of a few small loans and training, and through her own hard work and dedication over many years, Bienvenida now has a convenience store, a restaurant, and a home anyone would be proud of.”
Bienvenida chose to build her home in the neighborhood she was a part of, demonstrating her own commitment to strong community and hope for the future.
Esperanza Means Hope
Eighty-seven percent of the loans that Esperanza disburses goes to women. Strictly from a business standpoint, women are more likely to pay back their loans and are less of a credit risk. Women like Bienvenida use their earnings to help educate their children and do good in their community.
Women like Bienvenida are key players in ending poverty and building up communities that are underserved.
And Esperanza doesn’t only provide microfinancing for these individuals. Their “microfinance plus” model is designed to address poverty and community development through a combination of financial services and health and education initiatives.
“It is designed to address the cultural, social, spiritual and economic forces that frequently prevent families from breaking the chains of poverty, so that they can be free to create their own brighter futures.”
Esperanza implements a number of programs focused on vocational training, literacy, health and hygiene. Health screenings and dental care are also made available in the communities where Esperanza works, helping individuals to “prevent various infections and illnesses, make nutritionally-sound dietary choices, create STD and HIV awareness, conduct self-exams for breast cancer, and encourage participation in cervical cancer testing.”
“We are always looking for new ways to help children and their families and we know that one of the most vulnerable areas for our associates is their health. This is due to a deficient healthcare system in the DR, especially within the public hospitals. This service will give them to the ability to go to private clinics for treatment.”
And it’s through the opportunities that Esperanza makes available to women like Bienvenida that we can start to tackle widespread issues like poverty and education. It’s through these opportunities that we can spread hope.