Felicitas Contreras Sarmiento raised three children as a single parent while managing her hardware store in Peru. The most important lesson she taught her children was to persevere no matter what. “They all have to learn to fly, fall, get up, and continue,” she says.
As a woman entrepreneur, Felicitas has overcome more than her fair share of adversity. Many in the community doubted her when she first started selling hardware, but Felicitas continued to work towards her dream. “I always liked doing electricity work, and just because I am a woman doesn’t mean I can’t do this,” she says. She taught herself a skill that she then turned into a successful business. Over the years she developed close ties with her community and customers, always looking for ways to expand her skill set.
Even with her knowledge and determination, Felicitas knew that she needed a trustworthy bank to help her grow her business. In her early days, she worked next to a Mibanco branch, and after a fire destroyed her stall, she decided to reach out to inquire about a loan. Mibanco understands the importance of knowing their customers and specializes in providing financial services to small business owners like Felicitas who have traditionally been financially underserved.
Felicitas was pleased to find her Mibanco advisor was genuinely interested in helping her rebuild and grow her business. “It’s so important to have advisors who are so warm and close,” she says. Over the years, Felicitas has worked with multiple financial institutions, but she found that Mibanco provided a higher level of support and advice, and for a small business owner, that’s as important as access to loans. “Mibanco does not put up obstacles. They come to you, they tell you that an adviser will come and explain and tell you what the best product is or the best ways to get a loan.”
Felicitas is happy with how her business has grown and achieved success: “Yes, I have grown definitely! Now we not only have this store but we have storage, where I keep other products that I sell. I have grown. And what you see here, we don’t have enough space. So we have decided to invest in another place.”
Her family has benefitted from the booming business, but she doesn’t have to rely on any of her children to help her with the business, which allows them to find their paths. “They are three good kids. They are working. I feel very proud and happy with them,” she says. As she tells her story, her pride in her family and her business is clear, and she hopes her success will be an inspiration to others: “Women can do it on their own. This is a nice message that you don’t need to depend on someone to make a living and take care of your family.”