Masterful Mujeres: 3 Entrepreneurial Colombian Women

After visiting over 20 Kiva borrowers throughout Colombia, I have met many different people – young, experienced, women, men, city-dwellers, rural farmers, and so on. Although each one of my visits has been unique, one thing remains constant: every borrower I have met has been impressively entrepreneurial and tenacious. I leave every visit feeling inspired and humbled not only by what the borrowers have achieved and overcome, but also by their motivations for becoming entrepreneurs.

Below are three of many remarkable Colombian entrepreneurs who work with Interactuar, a Kiva Partner in Colombia.

Luz from Caicedo, Colombia

Luz (back) with her son, sister, friend, and loan officer in her sewing studio

A 36-year-old single mother of two, Luz runs a sewing business out of her home in Caicido, a neighborhood located in the hills of Medellín. Originally from the Pacific Coast, Luz was one of many people who were internally displaced due to exceptional violence in the 80s. With impressive resilience, she began her sewing business in Medellín seven years ago to provide for her two teenage children and 8-year-old nephew. Her dream is to eventually purchase a home for her family.

View of Medellín from Luz's home in the hills

Olga from La Iguaná, Medellín, Colombia

Olga in her neighborhood, La Iguaná

Olga is a 59-year-old widowed mother of six with a heart of gold and impeccable business acumen. In addition to her business selling clothes, Olga also helps run a fritanga (fast-food business that sells traditional fried foods such as arepas) and rents out four rooms in her neighborhood. She uses these businesses to support her children, her live-in brother who has a neurodevelopmental disorder, and her dog, Mono (pictured below).

Olga's pup, Mono (monkey), and the street view from her front door

Noralba from La Dorada, Colombia

Noralba with her Interactuar loan paperwork at the finca (farm)

Noralba is an incredibly warm mother of three who runs three businesses in rural Colombia. Upon my arrival with her loan officer, she first made sure that we had tinto (traditional Colombian black coffee) and then was more than willing to explain her businesses to us. She caters lunches, raises chickens, and sells tamales. When I asked her how long she’s worked in these businesses, she said “47 years. I’ve been working like this in the countryside my whole life.” Never learning fully how to read and write herself, Noralba is ensuring that her children receive a good education. When I asked to take her photo, she agreed - as long as we all took a photo together after (pictured below).

Left to right: Abigail (Kiva Fellow from California), Noralba (Entrepreneur from Colombia), Margarita (Interactuar loan officer from México) Photo cred: Noralba's 17-year-old daughter
View from the moto on the road to the finca where Noralba works

Aside from their incredible drive and resilience, these women exercise extraordinary compassion that translates into benefits for their communities and families as well as their personal economic wellbeing.

To support more Interactuar entrepreneurs like these remarkable women, click here!  

About the author

Abigail Bates

Abby was born and raised in Northern California, but moved to New York City to obtain a degree in Sustainable Development and Anthropology from Columbia University. While at Columbia, she solidified her passion for international development through studying and researching in Ireland, South Africa, and the Dominican Republic as well as through interning with The Foundation for the United Nations Global Compact. After obtaining her degree from Columbia, Abby returned to Northern California to coordinate sustainability efforts for Driscoll’s, a multinational berry company, where she worked on efforts to eliminate inefficient corporate water use and implemented a nationwide recycling program for plastics used in berry production. International Development being her first passion, Abby left her job in California to work with a social development nonprofit in Bolivia and joined KF29 as a Kiva Fellow in Colombia. She will continue working as a Kiva Fellow in the Dominican Republic this summer.