Since 2019 in the Argentine Catholic Commission for Migration Foundation (that Sr Constanza is part of) a group of enterprising women has been working, all immigrants that, led by the example of the Labor Section of the Foundation, have been convoked in order to think and to think of themselves as entrepreneurs capable of developing their skills to create products that could be sold, and in this way improve their finances.

With the passage of time the group has increased; beginning with in-person meetings once a week, in order to network, get to know one another, count on one another and learn techniques and strategies.

With the onset of the pandemic and the restrictions and obligatory social isolation, the group has begun to share and contact one another via WhatsApp. At the moment there are 70 women actively participating, all immigrants, the majority of whom are Venezuelan, and all with many ideas and suggestions for projects.

Since September 2020 they decided to organize a series of virtual meetings with trainings, talks, opportunities for formation so that everyone who is interested can continue improving their techniques for production, presentation and sale of their products. The training cycle includes training in photographing products in order to learn how to present them on social networks; a workshop in managing social networks in order to learn how to sell through Instagram, Facebook and other virtual sites; training in business planning and calculation of expenses. The site is basically a space of encounter that took place once a week; today it has been transformed into an opportunity for many women to learn, to meet one another, to network, to help one another, to give advice to one another, to vote for names of undertakings, to work together and to be a support for one another in every challenging task that we propose.

Patricia and Magui, the professionals of the foundation that lead the site, accompany each learning process and each undertaking, motivating the women and empowering them in their abilities and their self-esteem.

Creativity is one of the qualities most developed in order to learn to look for alternative forms and solutions to problems and obstacles that might arise. All the women who participate have the strength, drive and courage to go forward; they believe in their undertakings and know that they are an opportunity to improve their finances. The majority are unemployed, with children and with the urgent need to look for solutions that will allow them to improve their situations.

Some of the immigrant women who participate and work very hard in their undertakings are:

Mariangel has a business in balloon art and sells her balloons in packs, birthday gifts made with balloons and candy, balloons with different shapes such as cars, dolls, etc.

Yeimi, a Venezuelan, is an all-round craftswoman, she paints t-shirts, mate cups, masks all by hand.

Elizabeth, a Venezuelan, is in the process of opening and putting onto social networks Cacaoliz, her enterprise of cakes and sweets.

Yoberly, a Venezuelan, has a functioning Pashama Site, of homemade bookbinding. She hopes that her business may be a physical space of meeting.

Bahilde, a Venezuelan, works and operates a vegan bakery.

Yohana, a Venezuelan, makes traditional Andean pastries and frozen arepas that she sells to several shops.

They are a model to follow, achieving their work-spaces through their own efforts in a difficult context and in a different country; one of them is almost the sole support of the family, which is a source of pride.

Surely this experience will be a seed that can inspire more encounters and networks among women.

Martina Maini y Patricia Funes

The Bishops’ Commission Team for Migrants and Itinerants