Auxiliadora Invests in a New Oven and Upgrades Her Business

By Yolanda Fletes – Women’s Empowerment Program Officer

Auxiliadora and Concepcion and the new oven.

66-year-old Auxiliadora is dedicated to working to support her family. She and her elderly husband, Concepción, live in the community of Argentina with their grandson Carlito. They live in front of the local bus stop, so Auxiliadora has a small business by the stop selling snacks, enchiladas, tacos, soda, water, and natural juices. Concepción helps her sell their goods, and together they are a pair of seniors who are still working hard to get ahead in life.

Auxiliadora wanted to invest in her business but couldn’t receive formal loans from anywhere due to her age. In a recent program promotion visit by Self-Help International, Auxiliadora told Self-Help that one of her dreams was to obtain a new oven to make pastries, bread, and donuts. The oven she used to have had fallen into disrepair years ago and she didn’t have the capital to fix it.

Self-Help’s Women’s Empowerment Program Officer, Yolanda Fletes, explained to Auxiliadora how she could apply for a loan from Self-Help to get a new oven. When Auxiliadora heard the news, she was elated because having an oven would allow her to bake pastries and sell them in the community which would improve her income.

Auxiliadora spent two months collecting the materials for constructing the new oven. She collected soil from a farm, horse manure, guásimo slime (a local succulent filled with a sticky slime), ash, quicklime, and metal rods. When she had all the materials, she contacted Self-Help. Self-Help came to her home and trained Auxiliadora and her family how to build the oven.

As of September 2021, Auxiliadora and her relatives and neighbors are delighted with the improved oven that Auxiliadora installed. Today, she bakes pastries three times a week. She mostly makes simple breads, sweet bread, and donuts. She and Concepción sell their hot baked goods with coffee to the passengers who are passing on the buses.

Carlito helping to construct the new oven.

Auxiliadora doesn’t only focus on making pastries in her oven. She can make all sorts of desserts, roast vegetables, bake various meats, and cook stuffed chicken and pork.

Auxiliadora’s husband is interested in planting Self-Help’s high-quality protein maize (QPM), locally called INTA-Nutrader corn, and implementing Self-Help’s double-row planting technique for higher maize yields. Auxiliadora will be able to roast Concepción’s maize when it is harvested.

Auxiliadora enjoys baking now more than ever before, especially since the new oven technology allows her to stay cool while she bakes instead of heating up her entire home. Her goal is to be able to give her grandson, Carlito, a good education since he depends wholly on her – no one else can help him get his education. She hopes Carlito will become an agronomist because he likes agriculture a lot, even though she and Concepción do not own land for planting. They rent land during the planting seasons to plant corn, beans, yucca, and quequisque, which is how Carlito learns about agriculture.