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By Pro Mujer on partners.wsj.com/metlife/multipliers
Ten years ago, Maria Guerrero Vargas’ business consisted of little more than a shoe catalogue and a high dose of determination. Every day, the mother of two would rise at 4 a.m. to get her own household in order—cooking, cleaning, taking her daughters to school—before starting work at her shoe-selling business. While the children were at school, if Maria wasn’t knocking on doors hoping to make a shoe sale, she was washing and ironing clothes to scrape together little more than $20 a week.
A decade later, Maria stands tall in her fully stocked shoe store in the heart of town, though not unaffected by memories of the difficult road that led her there. When her now ex-husband left the family, Maria was suddenly in debt, owing months of unpaid school bills, and alone to care after her two daughters.
Fifty-nine percent of women in Latin America work in the informal sector. Like the majority of them, Maria didn’t have access to traditional forms of banking, let alone loans. She lived from day to day, setting her earnings aside one day only to spend them the next.
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