Damaris is a microcredit client of Grameen America, a Whole Planet Foundation microlending partner in the United States where the Foundation alleviates poverty in 14 cities around the country through multiple partners. Since 2007, Whole Planet Foundation has disbursed $4,250,000 to Grameen America to alleviate poverty in Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, Oakland, Omaha, San Jose, plus Puerto Rico. In 2014, the Boston-area microlending branch was launched by Grameen America with a contribution from Whole Planet Foundation of $500,000 to reach 333 microentrepreneurs. As of June 2016, over 1,600 women entrepreneurs like Damaris have received loans.
Damaris is a microcredit client of Grameen America who runs a popular neighborhood restaurant in Chelsea. Damaris’s restaurant is called Sabor de Mi Tierra, which grew out of a food catering business she ran in her home for 12 years, serving typical Dominican Republic cuisine to neighbors and friends. With her first loan she bought food and repaired her van that had been prone to breakdowns. With her second microloan, Damaris took a leap and starting renting the restaurant space. She says “each day is a new dream that can have its challenges” and that the community has supported her business so “every day is better and better.” Damaris started with three employees and now she employs five women. Her fifth loan cycle has just begun, and Damaris will soon purchase a steam table for $2,000, because she uses every loan to invest in her business.
Her next plan is to introduce healthier food and improve the display cases that show her clients the day’s menu. Damaris also caters events, and has assembled a team to help her as some will handle decorations and some will handle the serving of the food she prepares. At the time we visited, she was preparing to cater a 200-person wedding and a 400-person quinciñera on the same day. Damaris is already booked with catering jobs every weekend for the first part of 2017!