Ten years ago, Christina Baal visited Nosara for the first time on vacation to unwind from the bustle of New York City, where she is from. During her stay, she was surprised to see how few opportunities Nosarans have to get ahead, despite the great talents that many of them have.
Baal is a social worker by profession and she always wanted to see how she could break down the barriers between the Nosara’s foreign community and the local population. With that mission in mind, she launched the Vive el Sueño (Live the Dream) project at the end of 2015 with 10 women and two men from the area.
The program brings together different locals and trains them to start up businesses in the area or to fine tune the projects that they already have going. They can improve in the areas of strategy, marketing, legality and even receive workshops with psychologists to face the fear of undertaking a challenge.
From a Workshop to a Dream
Yisenia Rojas was born in Nandayure but has been living in Nosara for 15 years. She worked in hotels and restaurants as a cashier and a waitress. However, problems with her spine forced her to leave her jobs.
Rojas was one of the first to join Vive el Sueño,“We started asking what we were good at and I have always made piñatas to sell on commission, so I thought I could start a party supply business. However, we realized that would not be enough by itself, so we expanded it to offer office supplies,” Rojas related.
In the program, the Guanacastecan learned how to do market research so she visited all of the hotels in Nosara to ask if they would buy her items, what their main needs were and what prices they were used to paying.
In January, Rojas opened Creacions Yesi in Arenales of Nosara, where she sells all kinds of items for parties and for offices, with the advantage that she offers express service.
“ One’s greatest fear is always the legal part, but they explained to us how to get registered. They even helped me with the logo. They also taught me how to do budgets and from the business, I can pay myself a salary and that helps me in the house,” Rojas said.
Becoming a Professional
Isabel Obando has owned the bakery Panaderia y Reposteria Isa in downtown Nosara for four years. With the legal advice from Vive el Sueño, she was able to register her brand, fulfill all of her tax obligations and now even expand her customer base.
“Now more people know about us. Before, only neighbors and people from here [in the center of Nosara] bought from me, but now many foreigners from the American Project who found out about me come, because they opened a Facebook account for me,” Obando commented.
Given the improvements in sales, Obando now employs her daughter, Kim, and together, they make all kinds of breads, small cakes, large ones for parties and pastries for any activity.
Vive el Sueño operates with sponsorship support and donations from different private companies in the area. In addition the project helps link the locals with foreign customers to increase their sales.
Baal plans to continue helping more Nosarans, that is why she wants to give two courses this year in September, divided for people who want to start from scratch and for others who already have businesses underway.