Keyla is an Innovative and Determined Entrepreneur

By Yolanda Fletes – Women’s Empowerment Program Officer

Keyla in her yard growing crops!

Keyla is a 32-year-old mother from Melchorita, Nicaragua and a member of the Women’s Empowerment Program (WEP). Keyla’s two children, her 8-year-old daughter and her 6-year-old son, study at the local primary school, and she supports them by waking up at 4:30 a.m. every day to take care of their home and run her business.

Prior to joining Self-Help’s WEP, Keyla sold chocolate covered bananas, ice cream, enchiladas, tacos, natural juices, and plantains with cheese. She walked around her community selling her products house-to-house and operated her own mini-store. One of the advantages of selling around the community was that people walking by or in buses noticed her food for its quality presentation, which Keyla displayed in cases.

Keyla also frequently changed the food she served so that her customers weren’t bored with the same products every day, and her customers knew that her food was delicious. Despite Keyla’s continuous innovation, she wasn’t making enough income to pay for expenses around the house and her children’s school expenses.

A year ago, Keyla’s neighbor met with her to discuss the WEP and its policies. Keyla was motivated by their conversation and asked for the phone number of the WEP’s Program Officer, Yolanda Fletes. Keyla called Yolanda and asked how she could be part of the program.

Keyla with her products.

Yolanda coordinated a visit at Keyla’s home to check the current state of her small business and to explain more details about the program. Yolanda told Keyla that program members must be motivated to learn and improve, and that they would be trained in topics like self-esteem, leadership, business management, entrepreneurship, and writing business plans.  She also explained that the program would teach members how to manage basic accounting by recording income and expenses, and that it would teach them how to invest in, optimize, and carry out an emergency savings plan.

After completing the WEP trainings, Keyla requested a $200 USD loan to invest in supplying her store. She needed to buy more products like bananas, pineapple, chicken, melon, toilet paper, soap, bleach, notebooks, pencils, rice, sugar, refill credit for her phone plan, oil, cream, and sodas.

With the profits Keyla made from the first loan, she began diversifying the products she offered daily, making milk cakes, pizzas, rice pudding, flour tortilla, fruit ice creams, and pinolillos (sweet corn-based drink). On the weekends, she made chicken soup and grilled beef and chicken.

After one training at Self-Help’s training center in Quinta Lidia, Keyla realized that her yard was big enough to diversify her existing crops. She added papaya, green bananas, passionfruit, coriander, and mints in order to supply her business. Keyla is now able to supply her own products to sell instead of buying the products to resell them.

One of Keyla’s cakes.

At the same time, Keyla also purchased 10 hens with help from her father and bought an enclosure so they wouldn’t escape. The hens provide her four eggs every day which her children love eating for breakfast. Keyla began saving an additional 20 cordobas a day since she no longer had to buy eggs.

Keyla exemplifies someone who manages a loan well – in fact, she multiplies its results. With her second loan she wants to improve a plastic shed in front of her house to protect her business from getting wet from the rain. Keyla’s goal is to send her children to college when they grow up – something she didn’t have the opportunity to do – so that they can be professionals. As a mother, she wants the best for them.


This report was translated by Katie Seifert, Latin America Program Specialist.