ROSA IS THE BEST. She has taken control of her life and her family, and she is just one cool lady. We interviewed her in her comfortable living room early in the morning. I speak enough Spanish to get through the beginning of interviews and then immediately resort to questions with no verb tenses. We sat on couches and were surrounded by knickknacks and birdcages. Nonprofits (American or otherwise) are reticent to show clients that don’t immediately translate as “poor.” I challenge nonprofits to educate their donors and the public that sometimes you can make just as big of an impact by helping someone who is not living below the poverty line. Optics are tricky in fundraising and marketing for nonprofits and you have to be careful of the stories you tell, sure. But if your amazing client is knocking it out of the park and she also happens to be middle class, celebrate it! Also, we loved playing with her granddaughter’s birds. Photo by Esther Havens.
Three generations of strong women reside in Rosa’s house in Monsenor Lescano, Managua. Rosa, 56, lives with her daughter, son-in-law, two grandchildren — Rene, a 14 year-old boy, and Uvania, her outgoing 8 year-old granddaughter – and a couple of parakeets. Rosa grew up in a more traditional time in Nicaragua with an old-fashioned, machista father. He did not want or expect her to work. There were just certain things women didn’t, and couldn’t, do when she was younger. Women couldn’t be the boss. In the course of being a single mom, she defied her father’s expectations for her life. While she was raising her daughter, she worked for 15 years in a hair salon. While she had work experience, she didn’t get true business experience until her son-in-law referred her to Mercado Fresco (Supply Hope). Nicaragua has changed and now women are free to start businesses and to be in charge. Mercado Fresco has allowed her to come into her own and find herself and her confidence as an entrepreneur in her 50s.
Though Rosa only jokingly refers to herself as “Supermami,” the heroic name accurately describes the woman who raised her daughter on her own and now helps to raise her grandchildren. One of Mercado Fresco’s original test store owners, Rosa has blossomed in the year since her store opened. Before, she hadn’t worked for years and was dependent on her daughter for her housing and needs, but now she is able to contribute her weekly 1,100 córdoba ($45 USD) commission to the household. Instead of always borrowing money, she is able to lend others money and provide extras for her grandchildren. The store not only allows her to stay home and take care of her grandchildren while her daughter is at work, she was also able to pay for the house to be painted. Her family even comes to her with advice on money management, which thrills her.
While Rosa only went to school through high school, her daughter went on to university and now works as an accountant. Rosa’s sister lives down the street and operates a food truck business out of her home. Things are improving over the generations. Rosa loves being her own boss and the head of her household. Supermami, indeed.