Four years ago, Ana was a new mother again and needed work that would give her flexibility and freedom. Her infant daughter was having trouble with the bottle and she needed to breastfeed her. Ana was working at a café, and finding it hard to juggle work with taking care of her new baby and her older daughter at home. So when her friend decided to sell her shop in their neighborhood, in Newark, New Jersey, she jumped at the chance to buy it. Owning and running her own shop—close to her home—meant she could bring her baby with her and look after her there.
Ana took over the shop, where she sells imported snacks from Ecuador and other parts of Latin America as well as other food and products. She brought her young daughter to the store for the first year and a half; now she is in preschool.
With loans from Grameen America, Ana was able to make improvements to the store. She redid the floors and knocked down a wall to make the space bigger. Next, she wants to add a café area with tables and seating for her customers. Running a café has always been her dream. But without the loans, she says “there wouldn’t have been any way to keep the business going or to expand.”
She likes attending the weekly Grameen America meetings with the other women in her group. She’s known many of them for years; they have a strong bond and are very comfortable with each other. Aside from the support they provide each other, they gain a lot from the meetings and the information Grameen America staff members are sharing with them: “We’re learning about savings, about credit—things we didn’t know about before.”
Ana is building her savings and has incentive to keep going, to get larger loans and grow her business. Her eldest daughter is 12 years old and she wants the best for both her daughters. Her youngest recently drew a picture of an airplane and told her she wanted to have her own airline one day. “I see my daughters as independent,” she said.