Honoring FINCA’s Women Entrepreneurs
To celebrate Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, we honor the FINCA clients around the world whose drive, industry and creativity is making a difference in their communities and inspiring others. Here are just a few of these remarkable women:
Kerlande Toussaint, recently voted FINCA’s 2020 Employer of the Year, wasn’t going to let anything stop her dream of helping poor kids in Haiti get a good education. Not even a catastrophic earthquake that destroyed the school she opened in Port-au-Prince.
Undaunted, she and her husband started over in 2010 with a new school serving a single kindergarten class in a poor section of the coastal city of Gonaives. Today, that school has grown into a thriving academic center, with more than 600 children enrolled in grades K-10.
Kerlande also opened an orphanage across the street that provides a home for 20 boys who attend the school. And, to help kids and new moms get off to the best start possible, she even added a small birthing center and maternal health ward!
Her business success has transformed her family’s life—and given more than 30 faculty and staff good-paying jobs too.
Xheva Haziri, a commercial farmer from Shtime in southern Kosovo, had always dreamed of running her own flourishing agribusiness. She never gave up on that dream in all the years she was employed elsewhere.
Today, in her 50s, her perseverance has paid off. Her vegetable processing and preservation business is thriving and has become a major supplier to grocery stores and markets in her region.
During the summer, Xheva employs seasonal workers, making her an important contributor to the local economy. She has high ambitions for her business, including to export her products abroad.
Sara Tol and her husband Pedro had to leave school early to help support their struggling families in Guatemala. They made the life-changing decision to start their own textile business. Pulling together all the money they could, Sara and Pedro bought a leather workshop where they had been apprenticing and combined the textile skills they had learned from their parents with their new leather-working knowledge.
Today, Sara and Pedro’s products include little leather purses adorned with remnants of used huipils (colored blouses) and pillowcases with leather trimming. Their business has taken off. In a few short years they have grown to have 15 employees, and they contract work out to as many as 50 additional craftspeople around town.
Najla Abu Aweidh was a kindergarten teacher in Jordan, who after many years of teaching, was inspired to take her love for educating children even further. She opened a school near a Palestinian refugee camp and made a huge impact in her community.
With word of the school spreading quickly, Najla worked hard to expand the school to accommodate more children. Now, her school employs 28 staff, hosts grades 1 through 10 classes, and has educated hundreds of refugee children. She plans to continue her passion for education by obtaining a PhD and eventually opening a university offering tuition-free classes.