Success Story from Colombia: CHF International Client Named Microentrepreneur of the Year

CHF International Client Named Microentrepreneur of the Year

Five years ago, Jesús Ramirez*, 59, and his family were forced to leave their community after one of Colombia’s illegally armed groups targeted and killed Jesús´ wife. Arriving in a new and unfamiliar city, Jesús managed to rent a spare room and was able to  use his incomplete university education to begin offering medical consultations and administering vaccinations to people in his new neighborhood.

Soon, Jesús learned about CHF International’s Economic Assistance Program and microfinance institute, MICRODES. He quickly applied for a US$650 seed grant to invest in his burgeoning small business. With the much needed funds, Jesús purchased more medicine to open up a small pharmacy. In a short period of time, his daily income grew from $7 to $50 and Jesús was able to repay his loan.

Watching his business grow, CHF International referred Jesús to the Women´s World Banking microfinance institution through which he received two subsequent loans for $550 and $715, which he used to further expand his pharmacy. In September 2004, a MICRODES loan advisor referred Jesús to Banco Caja Social, a bank partner of the MICRODES program. Banco Caja Social, one of the largest commercial banks in Colombia, gave Jesús an additional $2,000 loan to further invest in working capital and a larger locale for his pharmacy.

A Social Entrepreneur
Wanting to give back to the community that had supported him from the beginning, Jesús teamed up with the local municipality and Secretariat of Health to offer a health education and prevention program to fourteen schools in the city. He also started his own foundation, “Community Social Health Crusade Foundation” that now carries out health brigades in sixteen neighborhoods and offers community lunches each Sunday.

By September 2005, Jesús had in-stock inventory valued over $5,000, accounts with several distributors, and was providing permanent full-time employment for his sister-in-law.

In recognition of his commitment and innovativeness, this past year, Jesús Ramirez was awarded Citibank’s prestigious Colombian Microentreprenuer of the Year award in his category. In addition to receiving a $2,000 cash grant, a course in managing microenterprises, Jesús has been invited to Geneva, Switzerland to speak about his experiences and success.

*The client’s name has been changed for security purposes.

Region: Colombia, The Americas
Area of expertise: Financial Inclusion