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United Nations Refugee Agency's Refugee-Led Innovation Fund Winner

Silvia from Brazil is expanding her nail salon

Silvia Santos is a 34-year-old woman living in the favela Rio das Pedras. She received a Bridging Gaps microloan provided by Athari Group. This is her story:

“I was born in a rural region in the northeast of Brazil. When I was a child, I used to enjoy playing with nails and I took this skill to work when I migrated to Rio de Janeiro, to have a better life. People used to say that nail service is not a regular job, but a second level job. However, I am a manicurist, and I am proud of it. I see my service as a way to give self-esteem and confidence to other women, so this is not only about nails, but also about the value I can deliver. Having a women centered business, I also see the opportunity to create more spaces for us to discuss and empower each other, especially with other female entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur, I also think about the value I can deliver to the world, and it is important for me to introduce sustainable practices in the long run.

I want to be a role model as a woman entrepreneur in my community and I also want to incorporate innovative ideas into my business. For instance, I would like to teach more girls in Rio das Pedras to work with nails, so they will be able to have an occupation and income.

I am also going to offer new products in the salon, so my clients will be able to buy the products I use to take care of their nails at home.

I was impressed by the idea to empower other women in my community through my business and to incorporate sustainable practices into it. One idea I had after participating in the Bridging Gaps workshop is to create a circle of women in the space I provide my services, for discussions and connection between us."

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