It isn’t easy to live in Soacha. Despite being close to Bogota, basic services like running water are not available on a daily basis and the streets of this town, one of the most impoverished in Colombia, are known for their insecurity and lack of infrastructure. But everything is possible with an opportunity and enthusiasm and Jessica Hernandez is the perfect example of this. BBVA’s Group executive chairman wanted to meet the entrepreneur whose story was heard around the world following her speech at the United Nations during a BBVA Microfinance Foundation event.
“Jessica is an example of how the support of BBVA Microfinance Foundation makes it possible for people like her, to improve their small businesses,” Carlos Torres Vila said. Jessica told him how she spent years on the hills of Soacha carrying a washing machine on her shoulders to rent it to her neighbors by the hour. A job that allowed her to get by, despite its impact on her health and preventing her from spending more time with her children.
With the support of Bancamía, the BBVA Microfinance Foundation institution in Colombia, little by little she was able to replace this business with a small sewing workshop for children’s clothing, which she hopes to expand soon. “In the future, I see myself studying, with a team of people sewing with me, and spending more time with my children because that is a career that lasts a lifetime,” she told Torres Vila.
BBVA Group executive chairman, Carlos Torres Vila; with BBVA Microfinance Foundation CEO, Javier M. Flores; Bancamia's executive president, Miguel Ángel Charria, and Jéssica Hernández, BBVAMF entrepreneur
Goals she is not afraid to set if, she says, she has the support of Bancamía: “They came to my house, looked at my income and expenses and told me how much I could request without over-indebting myself, how to pay the installments of the loan, and how I could grow.” This support is a fundamental part of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s methodology, which helps the 2 million plus entrepreneurs it serves, most of them women, make the best decisions for their finances.
“Women like Jessica are the true catalysts of change in society, starting with the education of their children, who are the future of this country,”
At the end of the visit, BBVA’s Group executive chairman, stressed how important it is to share stories like Jessica’s “so that other entrepreneurs like her can see what they can achieve with the right financial support, especially when nearly 60 percent of Colombian women don’t even have a checking account.” “Women like Jessica are the true catalysts of change in society, starting with the education of their children, who are the future of this country,” he added.
This entrepreneur, who everyone admires for her courage, still has a couple of washing machines on her patio to remind her of a past that took so much hard work to build. Thanks to her efforts, today she can dream bigger and “weave” her way to a better life.