From a young age, Noemí from Peru was surrounded by doubters. Her uncles used to say to her “You will not succeed, you are a woman.”
Since she was a child, Noemí worked with her family in the fields but, unlike many girls in her village, she was able to finish school and then study technical agriculture.
After getting married at the age of 21, Noemí doubted her career choice in agriculture. She tried starting several businesses, such as cattle ranching: "I started with cattle, but it did not generate much, it was a lot of work and everything went into their vitamins and food. Now I am in a more profitable activity.”
Noemí now has a business cultivating vegetables and is President of a small association. She started in the family business where she only worked with her mother. Now she works in a farming association with 15 women that she currently leads as President. The women work on a rotating basis, and, dependent on the season, they hire other people to work in the fields. However, organizing and convincing others to dedicate themselves to the difficult task of vegetable cultivation has not been easy. Despite this, the women have managed to see the fruits of their labour. All the women have developed personally and improved the financial situation for their families.
Noemí and her fellow farmers
On her path to being an entrepreneur, Noemí faced many different barriers. The main challenge was the lack of support from local government for small businesses, as well as limited access to water. Society has also often been an obstacle. As a woman, she has always felt that many people did not believe in her, reinforced by her own family. Now, she has proved her uncles wrong and shown them that the vegetables she grows sell "like hot cakes."
Noemí has always believed that to get ahead, a woman cannot depend on a man. Even now, she knows that she cannot depend solely on her husband's salary, because it is not enough. Fortunately, they support each other and he encourages her to continue on her path to business success. Noemí has helped change perceptions in her community of not only herself, but many other women too.
Since receiving support from CARE, Noemí’s production and sales have greatly improved due to new techniques that translate into better products, including producing organic vegetables and with a sale price direct from producer to customer. Noemí adds: "I have learned to record my production costs and differentiate profits for a variety of vegetables. Because of that, I already know which vegetables are most profitable in each season of the year."
Noemí continues to invest in her more than 2,000 square metres of planting through business improvement loans, which she has managed to pay back successfully. Noemí is now proud to contribute to the economy of her family, and uses the profits to educate and feed her two children.
Noemí now has a captive market in the fairs and ecological markets in one of the exclusive neighbourhoods in the capital of her region, although she still has bigger plans. She explains: “In five years I would like to extend our cultivation area, have our own warehouse, and develop our own brand with all the standards to distribute in local supermarkets.”
In addition to expanding the vegetable business, Noemí also wants to study tourism, so that she can have a lodging to offer community rural tourism services with her partners. She never gives up and that is the message she gives to other women who may be too afraid to try a new business: "Doubt is always present and failure also, but life is losing and winning, what you always get is that you have to try and it's that effort that will help you get ahead."