When you start with nothing, every day is a new triumph

The sun is only just visible over the horizon, but the day has already started a good while ago for Luz Dary Jiménez and her children. Running a food business that serves breakfasts and lunches requires them to get up early while almost everyone is still asleep, so that everything is ready when the Colombian municipality of Apartadó wakes up.

18 years ago, the armed conflict forced her to leave the city of her birth in Antioquia and start from scratch: “My mother was the President of the St. Barbara Community Action Board and my children were already growing up when the guerrilla and the paramilitaries arrived at our house. They threatened us and we had to move to the city”, explains Luz Dary. But the threats continued, and they even tried to recruit her children, so the family decided to move to Medellín. The feeling of insecurity persisted, and finally they had to start yet again in Apartadó.

Once more, Luz Dary had to find a way of bringing up her three children. Two weeks were enough to set up a small business selling food, mainly fried dishes and rice pudding. “People started getting to know me around town and they would order desserts and meals from me. My daughters were at school and my son was at daycare. In five years, we were able to buy the house where we live”.

The two younger children help with the business, selling food in the streets and making deliveries. Luz Dary’s life has changed so much that she relishes every moment, every piece of good news about her children, who are studying nursing and journalism, and every improvement she makes in her business.

It doesn’t matter what time the customer needs it, Luz Dary has it: empanadas, cakes, orange juice or arepas for breakfast … and beans with pork crackling, grilled or minced pork for lunch.

Bancamía has helped me progress. I had no way of borrowing money. When I heard about them, they opened lots of doors for me

Since 2010, her enterprise has been supported by Bancamía, the BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s Colombian institution. EMPROPAZ, which stands for Productive Enterprises for Peace in Spanish, is a specific program that supports those affected by the armed conflict by contributing to their development. It is a joint initiative with the Colombian government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“Bancamía has helped me progress. I had no way of borrowing money. When I heard about them, they opened lots of doors for me, gave me a  sort of economic solvency. If you have the ability and the will to move forward, you won’t have any problems”, continues Luz Dary. This “stubbornness”, as one of her daughters defines it, drove her to obtain her secondary education degree in 2005, at the age of 44, and motivates her to achieve small triumphs every day.

“I made it on my own, by fighting. I have a lot of character. As long as someone is healthy enough to go out and do it on their own, they should”, concludes this entrepreneur, whom adversity has only made stronger.


                                                                                                                                                                                Cristina González del Pino, Communications BVAMF