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Creating a family business in Bogota, ColombiaNubia Usache Galindo

In Nubia’s small neighborhood of Verbenal Sur, people look for whatever work they can get. The community is plagued with material poverty, and the ever-present wind and cold that sweep through the mountain village make day-to-day life permanently challenging. Given the economic and social challenges that face the entire town, Nubia was excited to get a job as a satellite employee of a gift bag company when she was 15 years old. She learned to fold and put together bags that she then returned to the company, getting paid for the work she was able to do from home. 

Thanks to her first employer, Nubia had a new skill set that she knew she could use – and two years ago, she began her own business making bags. A year later, she met an Opportunity International loan officer and joined a local Trust Group, receiving not only a loan to invest in her company, but also business training. Before Opportunity, Nubia spent all day walking around town selling her products from a small push-cart. Now, she and her husband have a small car to use, which makes delivery and sales far easier and more efficient. 

Nubia used her loan from Opportunity to buy materials for her bags in bulk, which allowed her to produce more than ever before. The increased inventory coupled with the family car meant that Nubia quickly reached new levels of success. Soon, she felt ready to expand, and began working as a satellite employee for a birthday party supplies company. In addition to making her bags, she spends her days compiling packets of party materials – learning another set of skills that she hopes to transition into her own enterprise as well. 

Today, Nubia’s business is a family affair. Her husband works as the company salesman – seeking out new customers and delivering the completed products to stores and other buyers. Their three kids go to school in the morning, then return home to work with their mom in the afternoon. Recently, Nubia hired another neighbor to help with the ever-increasing demand. And at Christmastime, when sales are highest, Nubia hires 3-4 more people to deal with the seasonal rush. 

Nubia’s dream is that the company will continue to provide employment for her whole family. She wants them to work together to create their own brand and line of party supplies. Her oldest son is a talented artist, so Nubia hopes that he will eventually work as a designer – empowering them to design their own products instead of relying upon existing materials. Her other two kids are still discovering their interests and skills, but Nubia is confident that she can find a role for them in the family business, too. Eventually, Nubia hopes to save enough to purchase a lot and build their own store where they can feature their line of goods – the whole family together.

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