Archives For colmado

Each year, we celebrate clients who demonstrate HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing Thurman Award winners. Established in honor of HOPE’s first CEO and his wife, the Thurman Award celebrates clients who have not only experienced change in their own lives but have also extended that transformation to others in their community. We’re excited to share the story of this year’s honorable mention from Latin America: Eduviges Cruz.

Before Eduviges Cruz opened her business, there were no convenience stores in her neighborhood. Seeing the opportunity to develop a business that would meet her community’s everyday needs, Eduviges used loans from HOPE’s partner in the Dominican Republic, Esperanza International, to start her convenience store, which has grown to include a wide variety of groceries and household items.

With the store’s profits, she and her husband bought a piece of land and built their own home. She relishes that she now has the means to buy shoes and school supplies for her children. “Everything changes … when you start to work,” Eduviges says. This is a statement she firmly believes, and she’s encouraging others to join Esperanza and start their own businesses.

And it’s not just the access to capital and training that Eduviges appreciates. Through Esperanza’s group repayment meetings, she also heard the Gospel, accepting Christ’s love for the first time. Later, through her witness, her husband also came to know the Lord, beginning a new season of healing and reconciliation in their marriage. Eduviges testifies that God “has turned my wailing into dancing. He’s clothed me with joy. I know what I’m talking about, because I went through some pretty difficult situations. And that’s why I say that God’s turned my wailing into dancing.”

Bustling with customers, Mamola’s house is a center of activity in her Dominican community. Neighbors gather to purchase household staples from her colmado, a small convenience store she operates from her front room. Every other week, members of Mamola’s community bank meet in her home to fellowship, study Scripture, and repay their loans.

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Mamola has been involved in business since she was young, learning the importance of hard work from her father. Widowed with five children and 12 grandchildren of her own, Mamola hopes to pass on this legacy of industry and ingenuity.

In 2008, Mamola took out a $177 loan from Esperanza International, HOPE’s local partner in the Dominican Republic, to expand her business buying and reselling dishes. Realizing her community would benefit more from groceries, Mamola used subsequent loans to open and expand her colmado. “I started with everything,” she remembers. “Just a tiny bit, but a little of everything.” As her store has grown, she stocks her shelves with larger quantities of rice, coffee, fruit, sugar, and other staples.

Giving back

Mamola appreciates Esperanza’s biblical teachings, especially the opportunity to pray together. She says she has learned more about her faith through her community bank’s time in the Word:

The Lord is my God; He is my everything, because He is the one that helps me.

Several years ago, Mamola’s husband got sick and eventually passed away. In addition to grieving his loss, Mamola faced overwhelming medical fees that left her in debt. She shares that she overcame this challenge with the help of Esperanza, the extra income from her colmado, and her five children.

A well-respected matriarch in her community, Mamola has connected several women with Esperanza. With her income, Mamola helps care for her grandchildren and has made improvements to her home, replacing the walls with sturdier concrete. Hardworking, humble, and thankful, Mamola dreams of expanding her business and passing it on to the next generation—along with her legacy of faith and hard work.

by Alisa Hoober, Recruitment and Retention Manager

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic to visit HOPE’s local partner, Esperanza International, and hear clients tell their stories. Early one morning, we drove down a dirt path along the Rio Chavon, which separates plush villas on one side of the river and the poorest of the poor on the other side, to the village of Boca de Chavon within the region of La Romana. We were there to visit a group of 10 women who have named their group “The Power of Israel.”

We quietly observed the group’s loan meeting, watching the 5W’s (welcome, worship, Word, work, wrap-up) in action, and admired the leadership of the Esperanza staff member, Vladimir. When the meeting was over, we had an opportunity to meet the women and hear about their businesses. Our group was eager to learn about why they joined the group and what made their businesses successful.

We asked our translator to please ask the group of women what has been the biggest difference in their lives since joining this group. The question was translated, and there were a variety of different answers from the group, including increased inventory for their business, improvements to their homes, and increased ability to feed their families. Then, Isabelle, one of the founding members of the group, stood up. She was a quiet women but received the attention of the group. They silenced as she spoke with conviction. She said:

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By Annie Rose Ansley, Field Communications Fellow in the Dominican Republic

A fundamental component of Dominican life, whether in the middle of bustling city streets or tucked away in the most remote, rural community, is the colmado. A colmado is a small corner store, or the Dominican equivalent of a mini-mart. And they truly are on almost every corner; the stores are as ubiquitous as Starbucks in New York City.

Two of the three clients with Esperanza (HOPE’s partner in the Dominican Republic) that I’ve interviewed thus far were, incidentally, colmado owners. People in their neighborhoods can stop by for fresh bread, a bag of chips, a soda, seasoning mix, eggs, candy. . .  Some colmado workers also have bikes and deliver–for free!–to your door, which is especially convenient when you need another 5-gallon water jug. However, colmados aren’t mainly about convenience; they’re mainly about community.

In the U.S., the goal is “get in, get out”; in the D.R., it’s more of a “come in, hang out” mentality. I have been shocked at the number of customers I’ve seen at several tiny colmados; they seem to arrive from nowhere, gathering in front of the store, in no rush to leave.

colmadoAt times they share a just-purchased snack or drink, or perhaps they start a game of dominoes or chess (can you imagine a chess match going on inside your local 7-Eleven?). Many colmados keep these games behind the counter and let you borrow them, along with a few plastic chairs; a game will often draw a crowd of spectators.

Then there are the “colmadones”—same concept, but a little larger and with much louder music, allowing them to transform into natural party spots at night. Locals gather there to spend their evenings together. When Hamilton and I had just arrived in Santo Domingo, we were searching for bottled water downtown and were afraid to enter the extremely noisy and crowded colmadón near our hotel. (Wait, what? I’m supposed to be able to pick up groceries here right now?)

There is definitely a beauty to this colmado culture. The stores meet even more of a social need than a physical one; they are a nucleus of community activity. Dominicans are very outgoing people (I particularly love their custom of greeting everyone when they get on the bus!), and they clearly see the importance of human connection and fellowship. For them, a tiny grocery store is a perfect place to hang out, laugh, and catch up with neighbors. And unlike many of us, they feel like they have time to spare.

Each year, HOPE celebrates a client who demonstrates HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing the Thurman Award winner. Established in honor of HOPE’s first CEO and his wife, the Thurman Award celebrates clients who have not only experienced change in their own lives but have also extended that transformation to others in their community. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be posting the stories of this year’s honorable mentions and overall winner.

For Marilyn Ciprian, serving God as a businesswoman means dedicating each day—and each transaction—to the Lord. “May God bless this day and multiply things in accordance with His glory,” she writes each morning in her account book. Thus begins her search for opportunities to serve Christ as she opens her convenience store—appropriately named La Gran Comision or “The Great Commission”—in San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic.

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