In 2004 Lourdes Insfran and her husband migrated from a small rural community located in one of the poorest areas in Paraguay to Asuncion, the capital, in search of better employment and living conditions. With government help, they obtained a piece of land in Barrio San Antonio and built their own home from recycled materials (wood, tin, etc.) In this area there is no infrastructure e.g. no streets, no proper sewage and only intermittent electricity. Lourdes’ husband worked as a street vendor selling vegetables, fruits and sweets while Lourdes stayed at home looking after their two very young children. The family income barely covered their basic food needs. Lourdes had completed six years of primary education but never participated in any formal or informal training that would improve her employment opportunities.
In 2010, Lourdes discovered the Women Micro-enterprise Project in Barrio San Antonio, a joint project of Asociación para la Promoción de la Mujer Artesana y Obera (PROMU), in partnership with Reledev Australia Limited and with the financial assistance of AusAID’s NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). Since joining the project in 2010 Lourdes has gained qualifications in sewing and dressmaking. She has also participated in the self-esteem and leadership workshops, which run parallel to the technical classes.
Together with other participants, Lourdes started a garment production group called the Community Workshop with the aim of manufacturing and selling products and increasing her family income. In 2011 the Community Workshop group strengthened and became a full- fledged Micro-enterprise. The Micro-enterprise is divided into two streams of products: sewing and baking. The sewing stream manufactures uniforms for the hospitality industry and jackets for corporate uniforms for a variety of business enterprises. Within two years of participating in the project, Lourdes demonstrated leadership, entrepreneurial qualities and solid values, which have endeared her to her fellow workers. They have chosen her to do the bookkeeping of her sewing group and have also elected her treasurer of the newly established “Association of Women Micro-entrepreneurs” of the Barrio san Antonio.
When Lourdes first started working in the project, her monthly income was of 200 Gs (Guaranies, equivalent to 0.04 AUD), a similar amount to 84.4% of small business owners in Paraguay. Now Lourdes’ monthly income is of 1,600,00 Gs (Guaranies, equivalent to 347 AUD). She is helping not only her own family but now provides employment to a neighbour who looks after her children while she is working. Lourdes and her husband have also built a new house made of brick and tiles and have been able to buy some basic domestic equipment. According to Lourdes, the greatest outcome of her work is family unity because the whole family partakes of the fruits of her labour. She also recognizes that her self-esteem has grown considerably; she has the ability to work and has become a competent micro-entrepreneur. “Before, I thought that all I could do was look after my children and family. Now I know that I can also manufacture good quality products which other people appreciate, enjoy and buy and that I can contribute to give my children a better future.”
We need your support; still so many others can benefit from Reledev’s projects and attain success, like Lourdes. You can help by clicking here and donating to the Reledev cause. A little goes a long, long way.