A can-do candy man

Guatemalan elder Carlos is an entrepreneur at heart. Despite the recent setback of a fire destroying his home and livelihood, he used benefits from his Unbound sponsorship to restart his candy making business. With a joyful heart, Carlos continues to sell his product and take part in activities with his fellow Unbound elders.

Sponsored elder Carlos in Guatemala makes his candy product to sell to local stores.

Guatemalan elder epitomizes entrepreneurial spirit

Entrepreneurs are often sources of determination, perseverance and ingenuity.

That's certainly true of 75-year-old sponsored elder Carlos in Guatemala.

To earn a living, he came up with his own candy product: straws filled with colored sprinkles, tied off with a small toy or accessory. With his creative thinking, Carlos managed to corner the market.

"To be honest, I don’t have any competition," he said. "It’s not a big business, but it’s one way. It has helped me and this is a business district."

Carlos lives and works in Chimaltenango, a town west of Guatemala City. He built up his clientele in the area, and has even learned words in some local Mayan languages to better communicate with his customers. He starts his days early, drinking coffee before making his rounds.

"Depending on the town I go to, I leave by 6 a.m., 6:15, I leave and I’m in the truck," he said. "And by midday, 2 o'clock, I would be on my way home. I’ve sold everything. I already have my clientele. It takes a while to know they are there, but I've found out that the people from here are excellent. They’re great customers; they already know me."

Carlos is one of more than 32,000 elders taking part in the Unbound program. With sponsorship, elders have better access to basic needs like medical care, nutritious food and stable housing. In addition to addressing physical needs, Unbound sponsorship strives to address issues of isolation and loneliness often documented among elders around the world.

As part of the Unbound program, Carlos and his peers take part in community activities. Local staff shared that Carlos likes to arrive early to events so he can help them set up. Once the gathering gets going, he loves to dance and brings joy to everyone around him.

Carlos creates individual servings of sprinkles using straws that are sealed at one end. Once the straws are filled, he seals off the top with a small toy or accessory.
Carlos creates individual servings of sprinkles using straws that are sealed at one end. Once the straws are filled, he seals off the top with a small toy or accessory.

Resiliency and gratitude

With the joy Carlos exudes, it's hard to imagine the adversity he's faced in the past year. The room where he lived, including the supplies to make his candy, was destroyed in an electrical fire. Carlos was out making sales at the time, so he was unharmed physically. Though things looked bleak, he didn't let that stop him. With extra funds from Unbound, Carlos replaced what was lost and started selling his candy again.

Carlos has been sponsored by Michael and Nancy in Michigan since 2016. He receives sponsorship benefits deposited to his personal bank account, which allows him to use the funds for what he needs most.

"I really am grateful for the support to help me in everything," Carlos said. "It’s helped me. I’m thankful to the [local Unbound staff], they’re great people. I’ve found them to be a helping a hand. An excellent helping hand. I’m grateful that they sponsor elderly as well as children."

There are more than 2,600 elders currently waiting for a sponsor through Unbound.