Yessenia’s Sewing Business is Helping Her Work Toward Her Dreams

By Yolanda Fletes Rosales – Women’s Empowerment Program Officer

Yessenia with her sewing machine.

42-year-old Yessenia is a friendly and loving woman who enjoys supporting her community, Nueva Jerusalem, Nicaragua. She is a member of the Evangelical Church and oversees the children’s educational program. She lives with her husband and two children – her 12-year-old daughter and her 15-year-old son. Yessenia’s children are in high school, and her greatest wish is that her son becomes an agronomist and her daughter becomes a nurse.

When Yessenia was growing up, she was unable to attend school. When she got married, she became an assistant to a neighboring seamstress.  Yessenia didn’t know how to read, but she was able to learn empirically using cord measurements. She used the experience to start making clothes for men, women, and girls, including suits, wedding dresses, uniforms, pants, skirts, and dresses.

Yessenia’s neighbor invited her to participate in Self-Help’s Women’s Empowerment Program, and. Yessenia enjoyed the first meeting so much that she decided to continue attending the training sessions. At first, she was worried it would be difficult to participate because she did not know how to read or write, but she was so motivated that she continued attending.

Yessenia decided to use her experience and turn a portion of her home into a space where she could teach women how to sew. She hoped to create a sewing workshop that would help many women work and support their families.

She wrote a business plan in which she asked Self-Help for a loan to purchase materials and fabrics of different colors and styles. The loan motivated her to continue working to support her fellow community members and to continue providing a quality, affordable service for her clients.

Yessenia’s plants.

One of Yessenia’s hobbies is to plant vegetables in her small home garden, including cabbage, cilantro, mint, chillies, oranges, lemons, guava, melons, tomatoes, carrots, and bananas. She keeps her plants hanging on the wall or sitting on shelves so that her chickens can’t eat them. She only grows enough to consume at home with her family.

Yessenia’s desire to change her life makes her feel like a completely new woman. She’s no longer afraid to participate in training sessions. She reports that her business has improved since entering the program, especially with new and different fabrics which she now uses to make curtains, blankets, and skirts.

Yessenia also learned about self-esteem from the training sessions, which has made her feel empowered. In addition, she meets women from various communities at the training sessions, which has helped her attract more clients. With her profits, she is investing in studies for her children to send them to university. Her children also support her in her sewing, which is helping support their future. Yessenia appreciates Self-Help for the support provided to women with limited resources.