Erlinda starts a business without fear
Erlinda, 20, was shy and very afraid to say what she thought. But her passion for sewing drove her to act. She now works with a group of other young women who also dream of growing their businesses.
Erlinda makes clothing and sells clothing in her community. Photo credit:Plan International .
“One of my aunts had a sewing machine and I used to go to her house to play with it,” says Erlinda, now 20, who turned a game into a business.
By the age of 15, she was making clothes at home and her passion was so great that she decided to enrol at the Alternative Education Centre in the rural community where she lives. It wasn’t easy: “I remember my father didn’t want me to go because he couldn’t pay the enrolment fee and we had to help around the house. But finally, with a lot of insistence, I managed to sign up,” she says.
Today, Erlinda is part of the organisation of textile entrepreneurs in her community. She sews professionally and sells the clothes she makes to various clients with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Turning passion into profit
She has been on a journey of introspection and learning to build her project. “Before, I had an image of myself that was full of false beliefs and not very positive. Now I am able to start my project. I have discovered the path I want to take and the things I need to do to achieve my short and long-term goals. Most importantly, I feel more confident about pursuing my dreams,” she says, controlling the fabric as it passes through the sewing machine.
Erlinda and other young women in her community are developing their natural talent for sewing. With the help of Plan International Bolivia’s Strengthening Feminist Leadership in the Bolivian Altiplano (Folife) project, they have turned their passion into a life project.
“I consider myself a lucky girl, for all the support of the project, for all the experiences I have had, especially for the places and people I have met. I had a lot of self-esteem problems, I was a very shy person, it was difficult for me to speak in front of others, now I am the complete opposite.
“I am not just an entrepreneur; I am a leading woman with dreams and goals.”
Trusted local business
The organisation Erlinda set up with other young women made progress and their work became known locally. They made a thousand cloth dolls for girls and boys, sponsored by Plan International. “Plan International trusted us and gave us our first job, which gave us seed capital to expand our workshop,” says Erlinda.
Erlinda and her friends are very motivated by their work. She says, “Many people already know us, they ask us to mend some clothes, to make a set of t-shirts, the mayor’s office asks us for some work. Little by little, we are even improving the quality of our sewing.”
The Folife project contributes to the social and economic empowerment of indigenous adolescents and young women living in the Bolivian highlands. Taking a holistic approach to addressing young people’s needs, it uses a transformative combination of sexual and reproductive health and rights education with economic and social knowledge and skills training while keeping the young people safe from violence.
Skills and work, Livelihoods