Life in rural El Salvador is filled with challenges, but also with women ready to take action and work hard for their families and their communities. That’s the case of Sonia, a member of Parroquia San Nicolás Obispo, one of our ESPERA partners group in El Salvador.
Sonia was born in Cantón Veracruz, Tonacatepeque, about an hour’s drive from the capital city of San Salvador, and like many Salvadorian and Central American women, she struggled with the lack of employment opportunities to cover the basic expenses of her family.
That’s one of the reasons she joined the ESPERA program in 2017. She was eager to fight for a better future for her small family – her sister and two nephews, a boy and a girl. According to her words, it was “a decision that would change her life forever.”
Life Changing Decisions
Since she began participating in the Mary’s Pence ESPERA Program, she has been an active member, participating in each of the annual Emotional Health Retreats, and in 2023, she will be attending for the second time a year-long training program called “High Performance and Sustainable Impact Teams” designed to give women communication and leadership skills needed to run their businesses and be strong leaders of their local women’s organizations.
Thanks to being part of the ESPERA program she has found the strength and abilities to search for new paths for economic stability. “With the first ESPERA funds, I was able to buy and raise 300 chickens. Later, using a second loan I got 500 new chickens. Today I am raising 1000 chickens, which I sell alive or prepared and seasoned,” Sonia tells us.
Determined to forge ahead and inspired by the support of other ESPERA women and Mary’s Pence’s Staff in Central America, Sonia decided to take a course in college on food processing, that’s where she found out about Agroinnova, an agricultural competition sponsored by Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development.
Innovating and Winning
After intense work and preparation, Sonia presented her innovative idea for a roasted chicken business. Her plan included a natural concentrate for feeding the birds and an original recipe that uses only organic ingredients. The jury of the competition evaluated the contestants’ business model, growth opportunities, and feasibility.
With a very good 3-minute pitch and a delicious sample of one of her chickens, she won over the jury and was awarded $5,000 worth of equipment to start her new rotisserie business with her sister, her first partner.
“I was so amazed and filled with joy and gratitude. I think this wouldn’t have been possible without the ESPERA program training and resources, they have been marking the path to follow from the moment I began,” Sonia recalls.
And she continues, “The workshops in Sustainable economic initiatives, Autonomy and empowerment of women, Finance, Marketing, Emotional Health, all of that had a great effect on me, as well as the support and accompaniment of the Regional Team, Gilda, Eva, Brenda”.
This is just the beginning
Sonia started buying and selling live chickens but now she’s selling them cooked, and she dreams of having a delivery service in the future. “We are already cooking roasted chickens at home, and at the same time working on a concept and design for our brand, Súper Chicken. I hope I can offer a delivery service very soon and get a place I can use as a distribution center for retail and wholesale”.