Floralba Lucumí talks energetically and passionately about her life, her business and her family. This entrepreneur from Puerto Tejada (Cauca) is 51 and mother of three children, whom she has brought up by working in a number of areas, all of them on her own initiative. These temporary jobs enabled her to learn about baking, farming and livestock breeding, while bringing money into the home.
When Floralba arrived in Jamundí (district of Valle) she started making bread. Then for four years she tried pineapple farming as well as looking after animals, but these activities did not lift her out of poverty. “I stopped growing pineapples because although I had sales, there was a lot of competition, and the fruit took a long time to be ready for market, so my income was not good. With the animals I had to wait a long time for them to grow too”, recalls this entrepreneur.
After that she started sowing sugar cane on a rented plot of land. As she didn’t have the money to pay for day laborers, to prepare the seeds and to sow, she turned to Bancamía, who believed in her project and provided her first loan: “I went to the office opening in the municipality of Jamundí, where they explained everything and I become one of the pioneers in the bank. I recommend it to lots of my friends and neighbors; the arrival of Bancamía has been a really good thing for us in this region, because it has brought lots of help and I have learned that you have to go beyond the “drop by drop” lenders”.
The option that Bancamía gave her of paying back the loan in monthly installments was fundamental if she was to see her business grow. “In the last four years my life has changed in a very positive way; today I am not afraid if someone says - "I'll lease ten plots of land to you" - because I know where to go. Just think, I started with just one plot, but now I have six, so it has gone very well".
She describes her enterprise with pride. During the year that the crop takes to grow, Ms. Lucumí employs 13 people who help with the tasks of fumigation, fertilization, cleaning, draining and harvesting. This success has enabled her to generate jobs and support development in her region. She has also been a member for the past five years of an association of “women who save, who have been taught how to save and how to increase the little we have; the best part is leaving our fears behind us. I told them about Bancamía and they all went to open accounts with the bank, which has given us free courses in financial literacy, because it is not only a question of being lent money, but of learning how to invest it."
People always say that the best lessons in life come from example and in Floralba’s case she is a testimony to entrepreneurship for the entire community. “Through my enterprise I feel that I have been able to change lives”, she says, her face wreathed in smiles.