"We thought our opportunity was in another country. But it wasn’t. It was right here in El Salvador."
Upon entering Glendy Fernández’s kitchen in El Salvador, one immediately notices two things: her smile and the incredible aroma of chocolate. Glendy created the concept of Chocolate Tetonalli and is a proud entrepreneur. In ancient Aztec, Tetonalli means “soul” and is a concept associated with new beginnings. For Glendy and her family, that business concept could not be more appropriate since it was built from its foundations together with her husband, after many years of uncertainty.
Glendy’s husband, Juan Carlos Valle Miranda, migrated to the United States in search of a job and to provide a better life for his family. Being away not only separated him from his wife but also made him miss important events in his daughter's life. In 2017, after almost five years of living and working in the United States, Juan Carlos was deported. Nonetheless, what seemed a misfortune at the time, was transformed into an unexpected miracle.
After completing the training process, Glendy became a cocoa processor, purchasing grains from the farmers’ cooperative affiliated with Alianza Cacao. She learned to make chocolate with her grandmother. Alianza Cacao helped strengthen her entrepreneurial skills. An ancestral family tradition can certainly be transformed into a great business with the right vision and skills.
Eighteen months after opening, Glendy and Juan Carlos have a full-fledged business, selling Tetonalli chocolate in stores and fairs in El Salvador.
“We are a sustainable company, and the income it generates covers the needs of the entire family. It’s not the American dream, it’s the Salvadoran dream, because we have found everything we need locally,” says Glendy.
One day soon, Juan Carlos hopes to export their chocolate and the Tetonalli brand will be known worldwide.
“We have a phrase that sums up our goal: ‘If the idea fits in your mind, it fits in your world’”. In other words, “We can achieve anything we dream,” he says.
“Tetonalli is not just our form of income. It represents love, family and unity....and I feel very happy and satisfied with what we have achieved,” Glendy says.
Alianza Cacao is a CRS program that works with cocoa farmers and processors to produce high-quality chocolate. “CRS is committed to ensuring a decent income for the families we work with,” says Jairo Andrade, director of the Alianza Cacao project. Such programs are sponsored by the generous hearts of many Hispanics living outside their countries. They possess first-hand knowledge of the needs of their communities and understand that the only thing that people need is an opportunity. That’s why their donations make it possible for CRS to open these doors of opportunity to an increasing number of families.
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