Angela Develops Her Business with Support from Self-Help International

Angela before SHI was a part of her business.

Angela is 55 years old and married with three children, including two boys and a girl. She lives in the community of Nueva Jerusalen, Nicaragua, ten miles from the Self-Help International head office in San Carlos. Her family living at home consists of herself, her husband and their oldest son (who has a disability).
Angela is originally from Somotillo in the Department of Chinandega. When she was only 8 years old her parents decided to start a new life in the community of Cruz Verde, in Rio San Juan Department. It was hard for her to adapt to the new environment at first. Her parents and older brother survived by buying and selling pigs.

The family lived like this for approximately six years until one day, due to the Contra war, they were evacuated to a new place called Laurel Galan. At that time Angela was 14 years old, and for the first time she was able to attend school. She went to first grade, but she saw that her classmate were younger than her. She felt ashamed because she didn’t know how to read or write. Plus, she had to help support her family by selling candies at the school .

At the age of 19 Angela got married. She and her husband worked as farm caretakers and sometimes her husband worked as a security guard in some businesses in San Carlos. Angela found that one way to help her husband was to raise chickens, pigs and ducks. She sold the eggs that the chickens and ducks laid, and when the pigs were grown they also sold them. It provided needed extra income for the family, since their first child had been born.

Later on Angela and her husband decided to move to the community of Nueva Jerusalen, where her husband had found an opportunity to take care of another farm. With the little savings they had they decided to buy a plot of land and build a small house.


Angela cooking Enchiladas to sell.

People got to know Angela and her family while they were living in Nueva Jerusalem. Angela began to make milk candies to sell house to house with her two children while her husband worked as a day laborer on a farm. Angela dreamed of having a business of her own in a stable place rather than selling from house to house. One day it occurred to her to look for a place to sell her products where many people would pass. Since she did not have any cash to rent a space nor the ability to do it at home, she decided to walk for about ten minutes, carrying the products that she made every morning, to a piece of land that is on the main highway that goes from San Carlos to Managua and also connects with other surrounding rural communities. She started with just 1,000 cordobas (US $30). Even that money was not hers, but came from her son-in-law, who went to a friend to borrow it.

Angela continued: “With that money I barely had enough to buy some snacks. In order to sell these products I waited for people to get off the buses. Also, I persuaded the people who came from different farms to buy from me, since they walked long distances to be able to take public transportation. Some of them waited for the trucks that picked up the milk they sold. While they waited I offered them my products. As time passed, I was able to pay back the money that my son-in-law borrowed for me and also invest some profits into the business.”

“Even so, I saw that there were more needs among the clients than I had imagined. So, I asked myself how I could offer a greater variety of things. One day a friend of mine got off a bus and came into the business to buy a fruit juice. She told me about Self-Help International (SHI), which is an organization that supports hard-working and responsible women who want to get ahead. Just that day she was obtaining a loan from SHI. So, I told her that I wanted to be part of the program and she told me that when there was another training she would invite me.”

“The day of the next training we both participated. I will never forget that day and the training topic. It was about nutrition and food safety, and I had never learned about those things before. I decided that I could learn a lot from this program.”

“I spoke with the Women’s Empowerment Program Officer, Yolanda Fletes, and she explained to me the requirements to be part of the program. After meeting those requirements I began to participate in all of the activities and trainings. Then the program provided me with four pounds of biofortified beans. To take

Angela with the clothes she sells in her store.

advantage of that great help, I asked my husband to ask permission from the owners of the farm where he worked to lend us a piece of land to plant the beans. Thanks to God, those people were good and allowed us to do so. We were able to harvest 100 pounds of beans, from which we consumed 90 pounds and saved 10 pounds for seed for the next planting season. I did not have to buy beans for our food for the whole year thanks to this donation. I continued planting, and now I don´t have to worry about saving money to buy beans, since in Nicaragua beans are an essential part of our meals.“


“Later on, the women’s empowerment program gave me five pounds of high protein seed corn. They also taught me a new planting method which would yield more corn. My husband, my children and I planted it the way the technician told us, but since we were not expert farmers the results of the harvest did not turn out as well as we had hoped. Even so, we raised enough corn for our own consumption, for seed, and to use in my business. I saved 150 pounds of corn to make enchiladas, tortillas and tacos to sell to people, and we gave a few pounds to a friend to plant.”

“I consider myself a lucky person because the next thing I received from the program was four pounds of biofortified rice seed. From that I harvested 92 pounds of rice, with which we fed ourselves for three months. I didn’t save any rice for seed, but we did save some of the other seed to plant the next season.”
“After some time I had the opportunity to obtain my first loan. With that money I was able to buy more things to stock in my business. With the profits, I managed to buy materials (wood, nails, zinc roofing) to make a

Angela proudly showcasing her business.

small shelter to protect both myself and my products. As time passed I obtained my second and third loans, giving me funds to enclose my small store. Now I can leave part of my products stored there and not have to carry them to my house every day. Today I sell enchiladas, tacos, tortillas, cajetas and fruit drinks. I invested in used American clothing because many people have to travel to San Carlos to buy their clothes. I already have regular clients from many surrounding communities. My business is more secure, even though I sell just simple products. I have learned many things from the training and support that I have received from the SHI employees, who are always looking out for my personal development.”

“Now my husband is retired, but he still earns some extra money taking care of the farm. My oldest son is the one who helps me, not only because the business has grown, but also because he has special needs. He feels that he can get ahead on his own and contribute to the household and not feel useless. My other two children are already married and live separately, but they come to help me during busy times, such as payroll days in San Carlos when people travel to the banks.”

Angela and her son standing outside of their business.

Currently, Angela told us, “I feel more secure and I am infinitely grateful to Self-Help International for opening doors to me when I needed it most. I have not only been supported with financing but also with training,

seed donations and technical advice from the SHI staff. Now my economic situation is better than in the past, and every day I earn a good income because I sell a variety of products and have a good demand for them. Now I feel like a different woman, since with my earnings I can help my husband with household expenses and our savings have increased. It is all thanks to the support that SHI has provided me.”