Community area

Marian Balmaceda

Paraguay

“I wanted to own something for myself, to be a self-employer. Fundación Paraguaya helped me to achieve that goal when I was feeling overworked doing what I loved.”

In 2010, Marian Balmaceda began pursuing her degree in Accounting Sciences. She decided to cover her own expenses while at school, so she soon found employment in a restaurant.

As a waiter, Marian acquired skills in cocktail preparation and gastronomy, which she thoroughly enjoyed. “It is exactly what I wanted to do in my life, so I decided to fully dedicate myself to my career.” Marian worked at a number of restaurants, all of which required a lot of energy and left her feeling exhausted. She wanted to work on her own terms, so she began considering running her own business.

“I managed to open my own bar with my family. I really just wanted to be my own boss. It was not easy at all, and the fear of failing at something I had started by myself was always at the back of my mind.”

La Casa del Mojito Paraguayo, or The House of the Paraguayan Mojito, officially opened in 2016. “When it started, we concentrated on cocktail creation in the traditional manner, trying to stick as much as possible to the original recipes.”

Because Marian’s neighbourhood of Loma San Jerónimo is the first official tourist destination in the Paraguayan capital of Asunción, a lot of foreign travellers began visiting La Casa del Mojito Paraguayo right away. People from Chile, Argentina, Sweden, England, and even Japan have stopped at Marian’s bar.

“Our customers are people who seek a quality product and quality service, and our greatest accomplishment is when customers are satisfied. We also always want them to feel welcomed. At our bar, we do something unusual: everyone who visits has to sign or write something on the walls. Already the walls are full!”

Marian knew, however, that she needed more support to continue growing her business. “My mother motivated me to participate in the workshops at Fundación Paraguaya. She first learned about it through a women’s entrepreneurship committee, and I immediately wanted to participate.”

Fundación Paraguaya, YBI’s member in Paraguay and a member of the Youth Entrepreneurship Programme (YEP), is a self-sustainable, non-governmental organisation that has been working since 1985 to eliminate poverty. Fundación Paraguaya offers a microcredit programme, conducts training and mentoring for underserved young men and women and operates self-sustainable farming high schools.

At Fundación Paraguaya, Marian underwent 21 hours of training. She learned about accounting, administration and how to be a responsible business owner. Marian was then encouraged to join the mentorship programme in 2018. “I believe that nothing I did would have been possible without the accompaniment of my mentor and Fundación Paraguaya. My mentor helps me view my business from a different perspective.” With her mentor’s help, Marian has reorganised her restaurant to allow for food service. She has also experimented with diversifying the products and services she offers.

Since becoming an entrepreneur, Marian has become more engaged in her community. In particular, she is working to make sure the neighbourhood stays clean and safe. Marian focuses her efforts on the proper handling of waste as well as controlling the existing animal population. She works with Paraguay Adopts to sterilize and medicate dogs and cats.

Marian has grown a lot since opening her own business and has advice for others who are considering becoming entrepreneurs:

“Set goals and make every day a step towards achieving those goals. Don’t be afraid because what you see as a risk today can generate something amazing tomorrow.”

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