On a bright sunny day in the Dominican Republic, Reyna stands across the street from the tree where it all began. She looks on feeling proud and accomplished.
She represents the dreams of Unbound.
One of the pillars of the Unbound program is to help sponsored members and their families meet their basic needs through a combination of their own income-generating activities, access to capital and sponsorship benefits. Throughout the Unbound world, this can take on different forms.
Reyna is the mother of Rogy, who is a former Unbound sponsored child who graduated from high school and left the sponsorship program at 18. Reyna is now a successful businesswoman who owns a clothing store selling new and used clothing.
Her success story began years ago when she and group of mothers started a group through Unbound. Being unfamiliar to how mothers groups worked or what they could accomplish together, the women were certainly nervous.
“At the beginning I was afraid, all mothers in the group were,” Reyna said. “But I am a woman of faith and got brave [enough] to go for it.”
The women took on the challenge of learning about microloans.
“We had to save for a year before we could have access to a loan equal to the same amount we have saved and matched by Unbound,” Reyna said.
“I took my first loan of about $180 USD, and paid it off in eight months,” she said. “After that, I got another loan of about $450 USD and paid it off in a year-and-a-half.”
When Reyna opened her business several years ago, she faced many challenges. Her first clothing shop location was under a tree.
“One of the hardest [challenges] has been the weather … with the sun and the rain,” she said.
The weather wasn’t the only challenge. Unfamiliar with how microloans worked or what running a business would be like, Reyna had several concerns.
“I was always afraid of taking loans, afraid of banks, besides we didn’t have access to those loans. When the microloan program in our mothers group was presented, this was a light for me — it was our own savings and the matching amount by Unbound. It was then I had the chance to save and do it with my own money.”
With the others mothers in her group, Reyna learned information valuable for creating her own business.
“I learned so much in the mothers group,” she said. “We received training, learned how to market our products, how to make a business, and we were also invited to train other mothers.”
She learned how and where to purchase the “pacas” or packs of new and used clothing from distributors as well as how to price the items to sell.
With the help of family, neighbors, Unbound, and Rogy’s sponsor, Gail from LA, Reyna was able to open a shop.
“Being under the same tree where I started and being able to see my first indoor business across the street from me is a gift given to us by God,” she said.
“This interview is a way for me to be a testimony of gratitude of the blessings I received through [Unbound]. It was wonderful, it has no description,” she said.
Reyna said she continued to participate in the mothers group for a while after her son graduated, even though, “at that moment we already had our little business and we could go on our own.”
While success didn’t come easy for Reyna, she is proof of what hard work, guidance and support from caring people can create in a person’s life.
“One of my biggest dreams and goals is to be able to be part of Unbound as a sponsor and be able to pass my life blessing to another family,” Reyna said. “I hope this dream becomes a reality, because as a family, I can’t find the words to express what this [program] means in our life.”
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