More than 30 kilometres from the urban area of Tumaco in the Department of Nariño, Colombia, Marlene and her family own a small hardware store that provides pipes and other WASH-related building materials to the neighbourhood. Despite the difficulties brought on by the armed conflict in her area, the 57-year-old mother of five children stays motivated and committed to improving her community in different ways.
Little did she know she would impact thousands of lives.
Marlene has gained sustainable access to WASH thanks to One Drop Foundation’s A∙B∙C for Sustainability model, used for Agua para ConvidArte Tumaco, a project implemented by Fundación PLAN as part of the Lazos de Agua Program.
A key part of the project’s capital component was the training process that strengthened the technical, administrative, financial, and entrepreneurial knowledge of microentrepreneurs. Modules around business training and soft skills helped entrepreneurs strengthen their human development by working on social and gender issues while at the same time learning to manage their MSME efficiently and sustainably.
ConvidArte also invested capital into small businesses based on technical, social, economic, environmental and commercial criteria that took into account the formulation of a coherent business plan, knowledge of the business environment, economic viability, the value proposition, sustainability, gender equality and the presentation of the initiative. After an analysis and evaluation of the information provided, the initiatives with the greatest chance of success were selected to benefit from financial contributions for specific purposes.
After her training, Marlene used the capital invested by ConvidArte to make her business more efficient. By visiting Marlene’s store, which responds to the zonal demand for WASH goods in a timely manner, inhabitants of the sector could avoid travelling to the urban area of Tumaco. Marlene says what motivated her the most was the possibility that her community could access whatever they need to have water in their homes. “What they would go looking for elsewhere, we [now] have here in our village,” she says.
Thanks to devoted entrepreneurs like Marlene, One Drop Foundation’s A∙B∙C for Sustainability model succeeds in eliminating certain barriers to WASH practices and facilitates communities’ access to the resources they need. To this day, Marlene continues to motivate her community members, especially women, to take advantage of the training provided by ConvidArte, which allows them to reach their goals.
Talk about sustainability! With the right training and financial support, rural entrepreneurs have the means to contribute to sustainable development in their communities and eliminate barriers to WASH behaviours. Marlene’s story shows us that real change can be facilitated by projects such as ConvidArte, but it is only possible when Leaders of Change are willing to act for the benefit of their community.
“If you are part of a community, it is difficult to see your neighbours going through hardship. Having the possibility to take action, you have to step up.”