Meet the Entrepreneur: Nora Vallejo
It’s been a couple months since the last time I was in Choluteca and I was excited to join one of our credit officers, Alvaro, on some client visits. He tossed me an extra helmet, I hopped on the back of the motorcycle, and off we went. After about 20 minutes, we successfully made our way to the rural hillsides of the city. We stopped in front of a school filled with children playing, laughing, and talking away. I took a second to look around.
There were children taking their assigned seats for a school assembly and further off to the side, a couple women selling snacks and candies in the shade under nearby trees. We then walked towards one of the women selling sweets, crackers, cookies, and other goodies and introduced ourselves. Truth be told, I wasn’t feeling physically well that particular day due to strenuous travel the days leading up to, but my spirits lifted instantly when we were greeted by Nora’s warm welcome and charismatic personality. After our introduction, I asked Nora why she chose to have her food stand business at a school? She explained that she receives great satisfaction from spending time with young children. She enjoys their light hearted banter, their playfulness, and the always positive energy they have. It is for this reason, and many more, that Nora has been dedicated to her snack stand business at a high school in her community for the past 16 years.
Nora explained to us that she first heard about Adelante in 2007 through a friend and thought it was an excellent way to grow her business. With her first loan of $90 she went to the city and purchased chips, sweets, crackers, and many other goodies. I asked her how her business is going currently, she chuckled and replied, “Great! Kids are the best customers.” Nora’s resounding answer only reiterated her passion of her business and the young minds she serves. She then proceeded to tell us about how the education workshops helped her to save a portion of her income to reconstruct her home. Before working with Adelante, her monthly earnings were about $137. Fortunately, her income has increased and now she earns roughly $230.
She then said, “In the beginning, we didn’t have opportunities. Working with Adelante has opened many doors. I am very proud that I was able to reconstruct a better home for my children as a single mother. It was a goal I had for a long time and I am pleased it is finished” Nora’s once adobe walls are now replaced with strong wooden pallets. Her new home also features more bedrooms to accommodate her three growing children and a bigger living room.
It was then that Nora’s mother, Albaluz, made her way over and introduced herself. Albaluz is also a client of Adelante and invested her loans and efforts into a food stand as well selling enchiladas, plantain chips, tacos, fried chicken, and other small lunch and dinner items to students, teachers, and parents. After school is finished in the afternoon, Nora and Albaluz work through the evening, selling the food items from Albaluz’s stand to farmers and passing drivers. Dedicated to providing a better understanding of Adelante, Nora also serves as the Group Coordinator for her circle of women. Nora commented, “It’s a wonderful opportunity to start a business and it’s important to be punctual for both the meetings and the payments. We also have to remember that we are working for a better tomorrow.”
Although Nora is thriving as an Adelante entrepreneur, she wishes to continue her success and reach more clients, expand her products, and increase her earnings. The determination and perseverance of Nora is a reflection of her commitment to creating a better life for herself and her family and reminds us all to keep moving forward.