Original article by: Homes for HOPE
Erika’s Story of Innovation
Erika de la Cruz is a wife and mother of three children who for many years worked as a government employee to support her family. She always dreamed of owning her own business and building her own house, but she could not find the right business idea nor did she have the financial resources to be able to achieve her goals. A friend invited her to join an Esperanza loan group meeting, and the two of them brainstormed and identified a business opportunity in her community. It was difficult for families in her urban community to access quality beef, pork, and dairy products, so in 2012, Erika decided to take a group loan with Esperanza for USD$100 to purchase products directly from rural farmers’ markets and re-sell them to her neighbors. For eight years, Erika provided quality meat and dairy to her neighbors, and with her earnings, she was able to build her own home and pay for the education of her three children.
In March 2020, when the Dominican government declared a state of emergency and established a curfew throughout the country, Erika completely lost her business. The markets where she sourced her products scattered, and Erika could not re-stock her merchandise. In the midst of this adversity, Erika together with her eldest son decided to start a new business that didn’t have to rely on the same distribution methods. They built an entire delivery and sourcing strategy from scratch and officially started a fried chicken business. Esperanza offered her a loan so that they could design and set up the business with all its equipment and machinery. By using digital platforms and local vendors, they have been able to deliver fried chicken directly to clients, and their business has exploded. Erika and her son have already started making expansion plans; one of Erika’s goals is to open ten branches in the next five years. Erika’s story is a symbol of resilience and re-invention in the face of adversity. According to Erika, “With faith and perseverance, everything can be achieved”.