Stepping Stone in Colombia reinvented itself in June 2020!
We couldn´t let COVID-19 stop us from continue creating a positive impact in Cartagena, so we are very happy to announce our new Microfinance program – Stepping Stone P’alante
As part of our training program we encouraged those interested in developing their ideas of entrepreneurship. Thanks to Caring for Colombia and Robert Graffam, who generously funded our English program this year, we have been able to redirect these funds to make their ideas into real businesses providing flexible microloans as well as mentorship.🙏🏻
All of our staff had the opportunity to apply for the microfinance loan by sending us a business proposal and how they would invest the money they needed. We then decided which of the projects were the strongest and divided them money between them. Everyone who applied for the program have and will continue to receive donations of products and mentorship form the founders and the winners received the loan, donation of products and mentorship.
- Bladimir – Ecological Eggs
Bladimir worked at Cafe Stepping Stone for over a year and he worked his way up to the position of bar supervisor. Since 2019, Bladimir has been planning to move back to his home town of Tuchin to start his own business: Ecological Eggs!
Bladimir saved and purchased land while working with us, and has been developing his business plan and coming up with a budget so he can start to be self sufficient once leaving Cafe Stepping Stone.
Bladimir wanted to start a business that could help his community, and is doing this through providing and fresh produce in a sustainable way with ethical practices. He is also keen to teach his employees everything he has learned about economics, the environment, leadership and team work.
2. Yarelis and Stefany – Tienda
Meet Yarelis and Stefany, these two independent young mothers became friends while working at Cafe Stepping Stone and then soon found out they were distantly related!
Yarelis was one of our general supervisor and Stefany became our invaluable administration assistant, learning basic accounting and managing our accounting system.
The two came together, using their individual skills, to start a local general store in the suburb of Olaya Herrera.
Their commitment, well thought out business plan and research of the needs of the area meant they won SECOND PLACE, receiving a loan and mentorship.
They would like to approach their business in a way that will help neighbourhood, by purchasing most things in bulk then offering lower income residents the option buy things by weight or value depending on their needs. They are also want to make reusable bags for their clients to use.
The loan has been used to purchase their inventory and storage items. The store will be run out if the front room of Yarelis’s father’s house.
We are proud of these two and know that they will work hard to achieve success to be able to provide for their families.
3. Christian and Luz – Fast Food Truck
Meet Christian and Luz Dalcy, they met at Cafe Stepping Stone and are now expecting a baby together. After a year of hard, consistent work, Luz earnt the position of kitchen supervisor and Cristian floor supervisor. Whilst working with us they both put their heads together and came up with a business to help Luz’s mum gain independence in her home town of Rocha, an hour south of Cartagena. They started a rotisserie chicken business that Luz’s mum could run on weekends and holidays, helping on their days off.
They have decided to move to Rocha and invest in the business full time and plan on selling a bigger variety of fast food options.
They plan to use the loan to upgrade their equipment, purchase tables and chair for their customers and help them purchase and transport ingredients.
We believe their dedication, knowledge and skills they developed in both front and back of house will help them be successful and boost the local economy of the town.
UPDATE DEC 2020
We recieved these impressive photos, showing how Bladimir has put to use the loan we have given him, creating housing for the chickens. Unfortunately, due to COVID, he was unable to purchase hens, so he bought chicks instead and is now waiting for them to grow into hens.
Due to impressive self motivation, we have also started supporting a fourth iniciative started by Jorge.
Jorge returned to the indigenous town of Tuchin late 2019 due to illness and started growing vegetables and tending to some land that was available.
He sent us photos of what he had achieved and asked for some funds to help build up the produce to be able to sell it at the market. We helped him purchase a water pump to take the water from the dam, reducing the back breaking work of watering with a bucket.
Below are some photos
Yarelis and Stefany
Stefany got accepted and started University late last year and so decided she could not continue with the business, leaving Yarelis to take full control of the business. Yarelis has since moved location and is currently recieving mentorship from an British/Colombian couple.
Christian and Luz
The pair welcomed in a new baby into their family late last year and have been focusing most of their attentions on this. Once Luz is once again able to work, they will begin the business by first selling fried chicken.