Before joining Pro Mujer, Carmen Adelaida Cruz used to sell beauty products off a catalogue in the northern Argentine province of Jujuy. During her catalogue selling years, Carmen’s son José Alberto was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident. The mother of five put her sales on hold to care for her son. She soon lost all of her clients and was forced to find a new source of income.
When José Alberto was back on his feet, Carmen signed up for an arts and crafts course, where she discovered a love for doll making. With the help of her sewing machine, she was able to start making her own dolls, which she’d sell for only a couple of dollars.
When Carmen joined Pro Mujer, she took out her first loan with the goal of getting her youngest daughter Julia Vanesa through nursing school. With the money she received from Pro Mujer, she was able to invest in and grow her doll-making business and, as a result, pay for Julia Vanessa’s education.
I also invested in my own business, but I never imagined doing so would make me so happy.
“The first loan I took out was to help my daughter,” says Carmen. “I also invested in my own business, but I never imagined doing so would make me so happy.” Today, Carmen is a proud and talented artisan living off of the sales of her products, which range from a wide variety of dolls to holiday decorations to special occasion souvenirs.
Carmen’s dolls sell for approximately $14, a 700 percent increase from her early days. When demand is high, she will produce up to 200 dolls in a short amount of time, which she makes on her dining table.
Thanks to Pro Mujer’s support, Carmen now owns multiple sewing machines and is in the process of fulfilling her greatest dream, building her own workshop at home, a 180-degree turn from the catalogue sales days. She’s also the proud mother of five working professionals.
“My kids are finally financially independent, so I am finally able to do what I’ve always wanted,” she says. “My earnings are for me only. If I want something for myself, now I can afford to buy it.”