Who's That Gal: Berly Cordero, Founder & Executive Director of Women's Worth Inc.
Name: Berly Cordero
Occupation: Nonprofit Founder
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
Current ‘hood: Freiburg, Germany
Currently reading: In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
Favorite workout: Yoga
I never leave home without____: My backpack which has too many things in it
Let’s start with the basics. What is Women’s Worth Inc. and what inspired you to launch your own nonprofit organization?
Women’s Worth is an organization dedicated to helping low-income women in Nicaragua achieve economic independence. We do this by providing training in business skills and soft skills. We support women as they connect, network, and form savings cooperatives.
Relationship and community building allow women to empower themselves and their families as they navigate poverty.
While working in Nicaragua for another nonprofit in microfinance, I became inspired by the women themselves. I saw their resilience, action, and determination to develop better lives for themselves and their families. One woman, in particular, Cony, who comes from a very humble background managed to build a successful business without the previous opportunity to get an education. She is an example of how low-income Nicaraguan women can thrive when given the chance. Her story inspired me to think about what it would take for more women in the community to improve their livelihoods through economic independence. Additionally, the foundation of my motivation comes from my background. Both of my grandmothers supported our family through informal businesses in the Dominican Republic. Hearing their stories of sacrifice, challenge, and success continue to motivate me to support women trying to make it on their own.
What does your typical day look like?
HA! My typical day. I have a coworking space that I work out of in the city center of Freiburg, Germany. Usually, I start my day there. I wish my schedule was more consistent but to be honest it is a bit chaotic. I try to do a lot, I am a master’s student, I have to make an income, and I am also running this nonprofit. I think that I thrive when I have a busy schedule, but it is also exhausting. I am working on finding a balance.
It must have been scary to leave a full-time job to start Women’s Worth Inc. Have you faced any unexpected challenges?
Yes. There have been quite a few challenges, both personal and organizational. Trying to balance things is always an issue, for example finding funding is a constant concern. In addition to that, last year the political situation shifted in Nicaragua which required us to be more flexible and to adapt. We are trying to be more responsive as needs transform. The core of what we do is still the same, the training series and savings groups are still effective. That has been wonderful to see, however, I think a part of working in a developing country necessitates the ability to think on our feet because the environment can change very quickly.
What advice do you have for others that might be thinking of starting their own nonprofit organization?
Know why you are doing what you do because that will be the guide for yourself and your team. The process of starting your own nonprofit is a team effort that requires collaboration. You won’t be able to do it alone. Knowing your “why” is really important in terms of communication and bringing your vision to life. When your team has committed to a concrete “why,” you will find yourself being able to delegate tasks with ease. People will surprise you by how much they are able to create, innovate, and move the vision forward when given the space. Starting with the “why” means that I don’t have to manage every detail and provides a sense of freedom amongst the team members. I don’t need to micromanage because we are all on the same page. I also feel really lucky because I have such an amazing team.
What’s next for you and Women’s Worth Inc?
Last year we held 38 workshops in three disadvantaged communities in Nicaragua. This year we plan to expand our programming to three new communities. We hope to serve another 100+ women. Right now we provide childcare, but I would like that childcare to include educational programming so that the children also benefit while their mothers are attending our workshops.
If someone wants to get involved, what can they do to help?
Well, we have a fundraiser at the moment. We are doing it through a really cool crowdfunding platform that is focused on women entrepreneurs. You can find the link to the campaign here. If you’d like to get involved in another way you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can also message me directly at email@example.com
Anna Montain is a content contributor for JUGS.