Tue. Apr 23rd, 2019

Colombian who seduced the UN wants to change its neighborhood with entrepreneurship

Colombian who seduced the UN wants to change its neighborhood with entrepreneurship



In Altos de La Florida, a humble neighborhood of the Colombian municipality of Soacha, where water is as scarce as opportunities, a 29-year-old woman and mother of four children makes the difference today due to a venture they have already heard even at the UN.

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Jessica Hernandez, who with her permanent smile seems immune to the difficulties of the sector in which 5,000 people live, most of them displaced by violence, had the idea of ​​renting washing machines for hours.

Of "crazy" they crossed it immediately, because in that locality, distant 20 kilometers from Bogota, there is no aqueduct or sewage system.

The water arrives every 15 days through a tank truck that goes up the dusty and steep streets that lead to the houses whose walls are usually made with wooden planks and the ground floor.

In that distant and forgotten place, where the roof of the houses seems to touch the sky, Hernández understood that he had to "solve two problems: Caring for children and earning a salary".

The urge to fill the stomach of his children, currently nine, seven, five and three years, made him think about creating his own business.

"The idea was born because I also needed a washing machine and there was no one to rent it," the woman told Efe, originally from the city of Bucaramanga, in eastern Colombia, and from where she arrived in Soacha when she was still a minor to flee of the armed conflict.

She got married early and at age 20 she had the first of her "motors", as she calls her children because they are the ones who move her to do whatever it takes to survive.

After applying for a first loan of 600,000 pesos (about 192 dollars) with Bancamía, the Colombian entity of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation, he started the washing machine business, the first of which cost him 290,000 pesos (93 dollars).

The first challenge faced by Hernández was to carry the devices on her shoulder, even when she was pregnant, to take them to the home of clients who paid between 2,000 and 5,000 pesos (0.64 cents and 1.6 dollars) for one or three hours. of service.

The response of the residents of Altos de La Florida was positive and when the water arrived, the washing machines, of which it reached seven, "did not stop working".

The decision she had to get out of poverty made her selected among more than one million Latin Americans to travel to New York in March of last year and speak at UN headquarters about how financial inclusion changed her existence.

In the solemn venue "for everyone it was a novelty that loaded the washing machines in the neighborhood," he said.

That day the message he took to spread was that "one has to take life as it comes and start to leave behind the barriers and the 'I can not'".

Also, to the more than 103 representatives from different countries who heard her, she told them that in the face of adverse circumstances, like her own, "you have to have a clear goal and know where you want to go."

Although luck seemed to smile on him, Hernandez discovered that the useful life of the machines was reduced by the precarious conditions in which they were used.

Then, resilient as it is by nature, created a new project. It is a dressmaking workshop whose start-up is studying industrial pattern making.

She also made another loan, this time for two million pesos ($ 641), to buy three sewing machines with which she now plans to have her own brand of children's clothing.

The capacity to fulfill dreams of Jessica Hernández reached the ears of the president of BBVA, Carlos Torres Vila, who traveled from Spain to meet her this Friday in Soacha.

"She is a living example of taking advantage of opportunities, of always looking forward and through work and effort to progress," Torres told Efe amid the commotion that caused his presence in the area.

For that reason, he clarified, he returns to his country "excited" to see in Hernandez "a person with enormous strength and despite the obvious difficulties in his path what he has done is to overcome them all with energy and entrepreneurial spirit "

Claudia Polanco Yermanos

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