By volunteering through Experian’s Sohos Reais – Real Dreams – project, I taught a mother of five about understanding basic business concepts so she could expand her sewing business and keep pursuing her dream.
I grew up with parents who loved helping others, which fostered my love for volunteerism. Now that I work at Experian, this passion has blossomed as I’ve volunteered in many different capacities, from dressing as a clown to cheer up people in hospitals, to helping teach financial literacy to small-business owners in São Paulo, Brazil.
Experian’s Sohos Reais – Real Dreams – program is designed to help connect entrepreneurs and small-business owners with experts who can advise them on how to help their business succeed. My volunteer partner, Diana, and I went through the training together, and a few months later were contacted by Aliança Empreendedora – Experian’s project partner – to help support a local entrepreneur. We were sent information about a woman named Adriana who was looking for advice for her sewing business.
When we first met at Adriana’s house, she welcomed us into her home, fed us toast and black coffee, and introduced us to her five children. Adriana is a single mom whose husband left her after becoming a drug dealer. She told us how he had stopped supporting her and the children financially, and how Adriana now relied on her sewing business to support herself and the children – two of whom had serious health issues.
Creating this business had been her dream since she was 12, when she had made her first dress for a school party. Now, she sewed colorful shopping bags and purses every day that she sold for R$1.25 a piece – a tiny price compared with the amount of work it took her to produce them. While she loved her job, Adriana told us that the money she made from her sales barely allowed her to cover basic living expenses, like water and electricity. She was on the brink of giving up her dream.
The more we talked with Adriana, the more Diana and I realized that what she needed most was someone to help her understand basic business concepts, like cost and revenue. I thought that if we could help her control the money going out, we could solve a lot of her problems. Adriana was eager to learn, so right then and there, I showed her how, by keeping track of costs and profits, she could pay her bills and start to save money for her family.
After our first meeting, a group of us from Experian were so inspired by her story that we raised R$1,415 for Adriana to buy fabric for her bags, and gave her a book to help her track her finances. Now every time we meet, Adriana brings the book with her, full of notes – she says it helps her work out her profit from the bags she sells so she knows how much more fabric she can buy.
I never imagined that just sharing my financial knowledge with someone could help change their life. By volunteering with Real Dreams, Diana and I helped Adriana get back on her feet and continue pursuing her dream as a small-business owner and provider for her family.