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Women's World Banking - Colombia

Expanding Businesses, Improving Lives
Expanding Businesses, Improving Lives

José Eber Sinisterra and María alejandrina Vargas began little by little, setting aside time to transform the enormous fruits of dozens of Colombian loofah plants (estropajo) into body scrub gloves. Fifteen years after inception, “Estropajos María” now operates effectively with four employees. It all began on a Saturday afternoon, in the family’s small plot of land in El Cabuyal. María Alejandrina Vargas found a pile of loofah fruits and joined her husband, José Eber Sinisterra, in wondering if they could be efficiently utilized. As a child, José made a few coins after school by washing and crushing loofah fruits on the corner of his house in the Sanín neighborhood. José Eber never imagined that his childhood pastime, joined with his wife’s determination, would represent the economic future of his family.

María Alejandrina dedicated herself to perfecting the loofah glove and finally devised a formula. With a half dozen loofahs in her hand, she showed co-workers in the supermarket. Jorge Cardona, one of the owners, saw the loofahs and simply stated, “bring more, those things sell.” The support of her boss was enough for María to go ahead. She left her job as a cashier and with a loan of US$100 dollars from WWB Colombia ten years ago, she began a legitimate business. With raw materials from her neighbors and a borrowed sewing machine she was on her way.

The business is so successful that José Eber was able to give up his jobs as a civil servant and dedicate his time to the promising family enterprise. With a loan of US$ 2,700 from WWB Colombia, they bought a LUV light truck to help transport the product on a wider scale. They also participated in The National Fair of the Woman Entrepreneurs with the support of WWB Colombia and continue thriving.

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