Migrant Women Empowered by JRS Livelihoods Program in Latin America

22 April 2024|Chloe Gunther

JRS Latin America and Caribbean is releasing this video series focused on entrepreneurs in their JRS community. You can watch and listen to more stories of impact here.

In the tapestry of migration stories that emerge from our global JRS community, strength and determination weave through the experiences of three inspiring women from Venezuela: Erika, Syudi, and Reiny. They left turmoil in Venezuela to seek safer, brighter futures for themselves and their families. Their stories, and the support offered by JRS LAC and the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (State PRM), underscore the power of livelihoods programs and entrepreneurship. 

Erika Navas found herself at a crossroads in Venezuela as economic strife gripped the nation and impeded her ability to take care of her daughter, whose chronic medical condition requires constant care. 

Erika knew she needed a stable career to sustain her family, and to do so, she had to leave. Erika and her family sought refuge in Peru. There, she got involved with the JRS community. Drawing upon her passion for and skill in baking, JRS LAC provided her with the tools and resources to establish her own bakery. 

With determination and the support of a friend, Erika’s small bake shop has become a beacon of hope, enabling her to support her daughter’s medical expenses, fulfill her entrepreneurial dreams, and foster stability and safety for her family. 

Syudi Granado’s journey mirrored Erika’s as she sought stability amidst violence and economic uncertainty. Faced with similar, mounting challenges in Venezuela, Syudi embarked on a journey in search of a better life for her family.  

In the video, as she slices and packages pieces of chocolate cake, Syudi explained the difficulty of trying to find a job, build a career, and cover living expenses, all while adjusting to a new country.  

They helped me find a home, understand my legal status, provided resources for my business...From there everything began
Reiny Valero, nail technician, participant in JRS LAC Livelihoods Program

She participated in the entrepreneurial training sessions offered by JRS LAC. They also helped support her small business by providing a stand mixer and an industrial oven. 

“I feel very grateful for the courses,” she said. She has been able to grow her business, expand clientele, and invest in better equipment so that she can make more baked goods. 

In pursuit of better job opportunities, Reiny Valero left Venezuela with her two young children, eventually settling in Tacna, Peru. When she arrived, her cousin suggested she get involved with the JRS community. 

She said she found support with JRS, who were able to help her navigate the immigration system. 

“They helped me find a home, understand my legal status, provided resources for my business,” Reiny said. Reiny is a talented nail technician but needed ways to expand her knowledge and skills. JRS helped her enroll in nail art classes. “From there everything began,” she said with a smile.  

She now owns a successful nail salon with clients who come to her regularly to get their nails done. “They often congratulate me,” she said, “I excel at what I do, and that motivates me.” 

Through the unwavering support of JRS LAC and State PRM, Erika, Syudi, and Reiny have not only found stability and independence but have also become role models and sources of inspiration within their communities.  

As we celebrate the triumphs of these women and countless others, let us reaffirm our commitment to fostering inclusive societies where every individual, regardless of background or circumstance, can thrive and flourish. Together, we can build a future where resilience knows no bounds and opportunities abound for all.  

Join us in creating more opportunities for women like Erika, Syudi, and Reiny as we create more programs to support refugee women and girls.