The family empowerment team visited empowered families with the aim of assessing the overall impact of COVID-19 on their respective businesses. Overall, we are encouraged by their findings! 

The team has developed a simple system to classify each business in Red, Yellow and Green categories, based on the effects of COVID-19 in their business. 

Businesses in red are highly affected by the overall impact of COVID-19, they are fully closed and the families need emergency support and recovery plans.

Businesses in yellow are somewhat affected by the impact of COVID-19, however they are partially operating and need a close follow up and some sort of support – such as provision of masks, sanitizer and gloves as well as creating market linkages.

Business in green are doing well. They are fully operational and very stable. COVID-19 didn’t impact these businesses!

Check out the chart below to see how the businesses and families are doing.

Now we would like to share a few stories from empowered families regarding how they are adapting and thriving during this time!

Francisca De La Cruz, Dominican Republic (Green)

“My name is Francisca De La Cruz. I have a variety shop for the home. Up until this moment I feel that the lord has helped me because I have sold a lot. I have recovered my initial investment and I’ve recovered the debts that were owed to me. It has only been this month of May that I haven’t sold much, but every other month things have gone well.

The virus has not affected my family directly and in regards to my business I consider it hasn’t either. Things have gone well. Thank God we are healthy, and that is what is most important. Because of the virus I’ve had to resort to the use of masks and gloves. I have developed an alternative [marketing] strategy that I have been utilizing through publishing my merchandise on social media. If someone is interested, I go and take it to them. In that same way, I go out to collect any accounts receivable: always with my masks and gloves. But, [in this time] I’ve had extra costs due to the purchasing of masks and gloves; however, it is with this overall strategy that I have been able to maintain my sales.

I give thanks to God and the family empowerment program, because I have improved with what I’ve learned and with your help.”

David Alonzo, Dominican Republic (Yellow)

“My name is David Alonzo, I live with my wife Ana María and my son Josué. Our business is a handmade cheese factory. [As of late, our business] has been a great challenge because the virus has forced us to take different measures to work. In my case, and for the sake of prevention, once I go out to distribute cheeses, I don’t enter my home again until I’m done with work. I eat my lunch outside of the house and we have to wear face masks all day. Entering the supermarkets to deliver our cheeses is no longer the same, mainly because we have to show our clients that as providers we keep appropriate safety standards.


For delivery we always carry gloves, masks, chlorine, and alcohol. We’ve faced the virus with courage, but there are situations [which we must accept as] undeniably real. The volume of our sales are no longer the same and since we sell less, we’ve adjusted to spending less. Thank God the virus hasn’t affected our family directly, but it has restricted our business because production has lessened.

We have hope that we might be able to resurface after the pandemic, [but] there are many businesses that because of diverse situations will have to close — possibly because of debts or other situations. But we, as a family, have resisted and have been able to maintain a production sufficient enough to sustain ourselves. The important thing will always be to fulfill commitments and basic needs, afterwards anything else is additional. What is key for us is to not become desperate, if we make less, well, we spend less.”

Meliha Sabi, Ethiopia (Green)

Meliha is a 44 year old woman, who lives at home in Gunchire, Ethiopia. She is divorced, with four children – three daughters (one pictured above in her shop) and one son. She used to provide for her family by working as a day laborer winnowing teff, a popular Ethiopia grain, in a mill house. However, Meliha  was having a difficult time covering her family’s basic needs by doing such strenuous work for a woman her age with such a small return in pay.

The Help One Now team in Gunchire saw Meliha’s hardships and invited her into the family empowerment program. After her training, they provided Meliha all the supplies she needed to set up her new mini shop business. She started her business in February 2020 and shortly after earned enough to send her children to school and provide for her family in a much better way. She rented a room for the shop around the local market area, which has great access to foot traffic and customers. Meliha has become a model for other market vendors because she is well known for adapting to supply different materials as most needed at the time by her customers. Her capital increased timely and her monthly income increased from 400.00 birr to 2500.00 birr and she saves 150.00 birr per week.

The COVID-19 pandemic did affect her business for a few days because customers were staying home, and her access to the materials she sells decreased. However, her good communication and customer handling skills, effective practice of preventive measures, good quality of supplies, and her shop’s proximity to a busy market is helping her to fight through this hard time. Her business is surviving the impact of COVID-19 and overall she is doing great.  

Ayelech Dula, Ethiopia (Red)

Ayelech Dula is a 27 year old mother in our Debre Zeit Empowerment Program. She has been married for two years and has one daughter with her husband.

Because of her husband’s poor health, Ayelech is the primary provider for her family. Originally, her husband worked in a local bar, but over time he became too weak to continue working. As of seven months ago, his health deteriorated to the point where he became totally unable to work, and Ayelech was forced to take care of the family alone. As she was trying to cope with the newer hardships of her life, Ayelech’s friends came to her with the good news that The Help One Now team on the ground was recruiting trainees, people who were in absolute poverty, for a family empowerment program. Ayelech met all the requirements needed to join, so shortly after, she joined the Debre Zeit Family Empowerment Program.

Since then, Ayelech says that her life has changed dramatically for the better. With the provision of cafeteria materials and supplies through the program, she started a business brewing and selling traditional coffee. In her shop, she also sells bottled waters and soft drinks to the government employees and daily laborers who work near her business. Ayelech harnessed the success she gained from her coffee shop to secure a loan and buy her husband shoe shining equipment so that he too could work, but in a job that requires little mobility and physical effort.

Mrs. Ayelech, who was once disregarded by her community, now tells us that the people in her neighborhood are astonished with the changes they are seeing in her life.

Ayelech’s business was thriving until the COVID-19 crisis hit Debre Zeit. With government workers and day laborers mostly self-quarantining at home, Ayelech has faced difficulty in selling her products. Her husband’s shoe shining business is also suffering because demand is down, with everyone staying home and foregoing large and celebratory events.

Despite times being tough, Ayelech has found ways around her business’s reliance on others shopping in person. She now sells coffee by taking orders in advance, and she has also started selling materials that can be useful to consumers during crises. She also plans to secure an extra income by selling maize on the road side. Ayelech says that it’s better to die working than to die of hunger.

To ease her burden, the Help One Now team on the ground has included her in the relief support program that runs from May-August 2020. Last week Ayelech received an emergency supply of Edible oil, laundry soap, Rice, Flour, Macaroni and Pasta. She said that she is happy and thankful for what the Family Empowerment program is doing in her life.

Ynoa Rodríguez Family, Dominican Republic (Red)

My name is Maria, but people call me Mary. My husband and I have a handmade art gallery. Together, we develop pieces made of plaster, mud, and clay to sell.

We’ve been talking to God a lot these days, asking that all of this might pass. We have been coping with our family’s situation, [and] taking care of ourselves. The pandemic hasn’t affected our health, thank God. But economically, it has, very much so.

COVID-19 has affected our business very much, [because] nothing is being sold, and we are not making any new pieces. Normally around this part of the year, around mother’s day, our gallery sells a lot. Yet, the virus and the restrictions in place no longer allow us to.

We’ve had to use up our savings, [but] Help One Now and our church have helped us a lot with supplies and food. [We’ve] also received food assistance from the school. These provisions, in general, last between one and two weeks, because we have six people in our home.

When this pandemic is over, we are motivated and ready to work. We have to recover because truthfully things have been very hard. We have been thinking about new strategies to lift the business up. We’re thinking about, specifically, offering discounts, [and] uploading pictures on social media for promotional purposes. We also want to recover some accounts that we have from older clients.

*Additional Note: Wilson Ynoa has found some work in carpentry aside from the family business, although most work opportunities are scarce and not long term.

Julien Odany, Haiti (Yellow)

“My name is Julien Odany. I am from Ferrier, Haiti. I am single. In my business I sell laundry products. My business has been slightly affected by COVID 19, but things are still going on. I often meet difficulties and struggle hard times; most of the time I use the business found as a rescue for no other way is possible. However, I’m figuring out doing my best to keep it up. My plan is to work hard and see how I can have things alright again with the business and get through this situation.”

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