In less than five minutes she lost the investment which had cost her years of effort. On two occasions, nature has taken away her dreams. First an earthquake and after that a tsunami which destroyed her business and most of her home. There have been two major disasters in her life.
María Carrasco was a cook in a restaurant for many years. At that time she dreamed of having her own food outlet one day. With huge effort she achieved this, but it all came tumbling down in one night when nature turned against her. “Everything was going well, until that day, February 27. We lost everything: all the machinery and part of our home”, she recalls. On top of this calamity fell another blow: her husband lost his job as a fisherman and all the tools he had bought with years of sacrifice. “We were in a really tight spot, but we knew we had to make money. With two daughters at university, we had to start again, whatever it took, even if it was from the very bottom. In December of that year they invited me into Fondo Esperanza and I didn't need to think twice about joining”, she continues.
Thanks to the microcredits she received, she managed to restart the sale of pies, which have made her famous in the area. “When it happened, we were helped by family members and friends, but we needed capital to buy goods and to get going again, this time as a family project. We delivered to small businesses and after a while we couldn’t keep up with demand, so we reopened our premises again”, says this 53-year old entrepreneur proudly. She has turned her passion for cooking into a family microenterprise, the profits from which have a definite purpose: to pay for her daughters’ education.
The “Don Chano” pie kitchen has won a solid place among the diners of Dichato, in the VIII Biobío region. Maria holds the secret in her hands. “I love cooking, that must be why we have lots of customers; in the summer I had three people working with me, because we couldn’t manage on our own”, she adds.
As to her experience with the institution, she has nothing but gratitude. “Fondo Esperanza supported me in the worst moments and believed in my project. I think they make a big contribution to people who are starting from the bottom, and who dream of doing better. They have helped me to make progress, to improve my standard of living and that of my family", she ends.
Maria has not stopped dreaming. Her next challenge: to open her own restaurant. And her vision of her future with Fondo Esperanza is “to carry on with my business. I promise anyone who wants to sign up with Fondo Esperanza, that they will receive support; that they can do what they dream of doing and with Fondo Esperanza's support they can achieve it”.