Alejandrina chewed coca leaves to ease her hunger pains. But her six children - Renso, Eduardo, Erika, Victor, Angel and Isabel - needed food, and Alejandrina had no money to pay for it.
To make matters worse, she'd fallen ill and had been fired from her job for taking too many days to travel to faraway cities in Peru in search of medical treatment. Eventually she found care, battled her illness, and won. But then her husband, who battered her with constant putdowns and insults, left her. Gone was the abuse but so was the extra money to care for her children.
Unable to find a job, she started a business, making and selling miniature dolls representing characters from Peruvian culture. But Alejandrina could not sell enough to put food on the table.
Then she heard about Pro Mujer on the radio: women just like her - poor women with no collateral - were getting small loans and coaching to start or expand a business. She signed up, and soon began taking part in business trainings. She drafted a simple business plan, and got a loan to buy clay, ribbons, feathers, and other materials to make dolls.
Today, Alejandrina earns enough to support her family. Her weekly earnings have almost tripled, jumping from US$11 to about US$31.
She dreams of someday owning a retail store.