As a child, Ramona Rodriguez didn’t have the opportunity to attend school or learn to read. Though she refused to let illiteracy hold her back, the challenge cemented Ramona’s determination that her children would never face that obstacle in life. Whatever sacrifices she must make, her four children would go to school.
That resolve propelled Ramona, even as she mourned the untimely death of her husband and the father of her still-young children. As a single mother in Villa Mella, Dominican Republic, she worked multiple jobs—selling cleaning supplies and clothing and tending other people’s homes—to ensure she could feed her children and send them to school.
After several years, Ramona remarried, but her drive to provide never wavered. Ramona’s mother raised her to believe that nothing can be accomplished without the Lord—and Ramona now sees how He blessed her with an indomitable spirit, strong faith, and innate business sense that have helped her become the successful businesswoman she is today.
When a relative sent Ramona’s sons a PlayStation, she saw not only a generous gift but also a business opportunity. As the boys’ friends flocked to her home to play video games, Ramona realized she was looking at potential clientele and a product in demand. She sought a $200 loan from Esperanza International, HOPE’s partner in the Dominican Republic, to purchase two televisions and various video games for her small arcade. When frequent power outages threatened her profitability, Ramona sought another loan to purchase a generator.
Since her first loan from Esperanza, she has purchased seven computers, a third television, a radio, speakers, and a Wii. In addition to her arcade, she has established an internet café, copy shop, and computer and cell phone repair business, where she employs her oldest son.
Committing her plans to God
Esperanza also gave Ramona access to business training, where she learned basic accounting, marketing, and customer service principles that have complemented her natural savvy. She has also learned to prayerfully present her business plans to the Lord. She advocates for Esperanza in her community, inviting others to attend meetings so they can hear the Word of God.
As daily provision became less of a struggle, Ramona set her sights on community impact. She successfully campaigned for the construction of a bridge over a small river to connect two neighborhoods and is now advocating for paved streets for her town. Her improved economic stability also enabled Ramona to purchase the home she had rented for several years.
Ramona continues to dream of business expansion, including building an addition to her home that will serve as the internet center. She hopes to open a women’s clothing and accessory shop, and she’d also like to take classes in baking and upholstery, broadening her skill set. Ramona has proudly seen two children through school—including sending her daughter to nursing school—and she continues to support the education of her younger children, who she hopes will also pursue university education.