Stepping Stone in Colombia has reinvented itself!
Despite having to close, we wanted to continue creating 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.
Below are the winners of the program
This is Bladimir. He has been working with 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.
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.
They 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.
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.