Leaders: The highest stage of development on our Client Continuum. Leaders are women who are not only experiencing empowerment, but are using it to inspire institutional change in their communities. These women have the business skills to innovate and run larger businesses, and may be searching for expanded markets. They dream big and believe that with the right training and financial products, they can achieve their goals.
At age 40, Lorena is an unstoppable force. As a Friendship Bridge client, Lorena quickly demonstrated leadership and business skills and was elected president of her Trust Bank. Her determination and grit come from a lifetime of fighting the odds stacked against her.
Although her family was poor, Lorena fought to advance to the 9th grade. When her mother became ill, Lorena had to stop attending school and support her family. She married at age 19, but her husband was an alcoholic who avoided taking responsibility for their five children.
Summoning up her courage and determination, Lorena worked several jobs to support her children’s education. She took the advice of a neighbor and started a new business selling sausages. The business was immediately successful and demand for her products increased. Needing to expand her business, Lorena approached Friendship Bridge for a loan. With her loans she began to diversify her products and began to sell sausage, ham, cheese, and refacciones, or snacks. Thanks to her business success, all of her children remain in school. Her oldest is finishing a degree in law and the others are in high school.
Because of her leadership abilities, Lorena was selected to participate in Friendship Bridge’s pilot mentor program, where she learned skills to build her business and have impact in the community. “After the training, I have increased self-confidence and a clearer vision for the future,” Lorena said.
Lorena now has a better understanding of her business margins, how to increase customer service and satisfaction, and how to market to more customers. Lorena also feels more organized after working with the mentor and can better carry out her business plan.
Lorena participates at a high level in her community. When a disease broke out in nearby communities, she was proactive and made arrangements with a Guatemalan congresswoman to have vaccinations given in the communities to cure and prevent the illness. Lorena is committed to being a change-maker in her community and her country. She is dreaming big and achieving her goals.