How a young woman became an entrepreneur

Young people like Wendy Vanessa Otero Henríquez are building their own livelihoods in rural El Salvador through income-generating initiatives. Our local partner organization CORDES trains them and provides them with advice and support.

"It's worth believing in your dreams and not giving up." This statement by 21-year-old Wendy Vanessa Otero Henríquez reflects her determination. For a long time, she didn't know what to do with her life. Mostly she looked after her little brother at home and played football with a few friends. "After compulsory schooling, I should have moved to a bigger city to continue school. But I'm very attached to my family and decided against it."

In Nombre de Jesús, a small village in the department of Chalatenango, there are few opportunities for young people. Due to the remote location, young people have to travel long distances to attend secondary school. As most families do not have the financial means to do so, many young people are denied further education. Most of them have little choice but to help their parents around the house or in the fields. Others try to escape poverty and a lack of prospects and migrate to the USA. But deportations back home often put them in even greater danger and hardship.

A step towards the future

Wendy Vanessa Otero Henríquez is convinced that there is a need for more educational opportunities for young people in her region. "Young people in El Salvador can achieve anything with effort and work. But there must be more opportunities for young people so that they can open their initiatives and small businesses and take a step towards the future. If they earn something, they can become independent. That is the dream of many young people here." She is all the more grateful for the opportunity she has been given: "A lot of things changed for me when a CORDES employee came to Nombre de Jesús and told me about her youth project."

Our partner organization offers young people from 16 communities in the Chalatenango region a way out of poverty and a lack of prospects by supporting them in setting up income-generating initiatives. They are encouraged to develop a business idea and examine its feasibility and prospects of success. The young people also receive financial start-up assistance in the form of a small loan. In addition, they receive psychosocial support and are encouraged to build a future for themselves in their communities. 450 young people and young adults benefit from our project.

Overcoming poverty and a lack of prospects

The courses offered by CORDES are diverse: the young entrepreneurs acquire know-how on agricultural and craft topics, learn the basics of business management and entrepreneurship and deal with topics such as personal development, gender, peace work, teamwork and youth participation. In the marketing course, they also learn how to promote their products via social media. They also visit existing initiatives run by other young entrepreneurs and learn from their experiences.

Wendy Vanessa Otero Henríquez then developed the idea of selling "enchiladas" (filled tortillas) and "platanos fritos" (fried plantains). Her parents encouraged her when they heard about it: "They were delighted with me when I received the start-up fund from CORDES."

A good feeling

Wendy is happy with her life. "It's almost a family project. My mother helps me with the sales, and my father and brother also lend a hand from time to time. Most of the customers are from Nombre de Jesús. Many buy from me when they come home from work and don't feel like cooking. The enchiladas do really well because they are very filling. My secret tip is that the tortillas have to be very crispy. I think that's the secret of my success," she says with a wink.

"The youth advisor from CORDES visits me regularly and advises me if I have any questions. With my earnings, I can make a contribution to the family income. That makes me very proud." In her free time, she still loves to play football. "Lots of girls from my village play and we enjoy it." Through CORDES, Wendy has not only received support, but also the opportunity to implement her ideas and improve her living conditions. Her initiative to sell "enchiladas" and "platanos fritos" has not only provided her with an income, but also a good feeling of independence and self-reliance.

Our projects in El Salvador

Wendy Vanessa Otero is no exception in El Salvador. Persistent poverty and a lack of prospects characterize the lives of many people. Thanks to donors like you, many more young people in our project countries in Africa and Latin America receive a fair chance. Education, professional and psychological support and financial start-up aid are the key to a self-determined life. Find out more about our work in El Salvador and how we create prospects for young people.

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