After my first week as a Kiva Fellow my short answer is no, and I guess the slightly longer answer, definitely not! That is what the clients of Microfinanzas PRISMA have shown me, especially Rosa of San Juan de Miraflores in Lima, Peru. Rosa is preparing the lunch she will serve to customers in the back kitchen when Ángela, the Kiva Assistant in the Lima Sur office of PRISMA, and I arrive. She comes outside immediately to talk to us, bringing a savory smell of potatoes with her.
Rosa is 56 years old and preparing to open her own restaurant in her house in the next year or so. How many of you would embark on a new business in your 50′s? I don’t know that I would. But as Rosa explains, before she had been washing clothes for neighbors. The job was physically demanding on her and not very profitable. And she believed she had great recipes to share with everyone, “recetas muy ricas” as she describes. So she did what anyone wanting to start her own business would do. She asked around about where she could get some start up money. And she got connected with PRISMA.
Six years later I am standing and talking to Rosa in the kitchen of another building because her house is under construction. The walls are being painted and she hopes to put in tiling and tables and chairs for her customers to sit and enjoy their meal. She invites us back to he kitchen as we continue to talk. And I snap a few shots and show her the photos I took. She laughs and grabs my arm as she covers her mouth with her hand. Her happiness is a little overwhelming for me.
I am still thinking about Rosa after we leave and Ángela asks me what I think about all of this. I get choked up and say “es increible, es increible.” Part of what drew me to Kiva was the idea of female empowerment that Rosa embodies. That women, with the help of MFIs like PRISMA, can realize their dreams of owning their own business at any stage in their life and attain the financial independence to care for themselves and their families.
Thank you, Rosa, for an amazing first week as a Kiva Fellow and for showing me that it is really never too late to follow your dream!