Most forty year olds would consider their career path charted. Not Maria Canellas. She came to the United States from Honduras at 37 years old with an appetite for self- accomplishment and personal success.
In just six years in Miami, Maria had earned her associates degree in Tourism and Travel studies while gaining experience working for various travel agencies. She had a way with people and it was apparent in her career success.
“I was contributing so much to other agencies, especially for the last agency I worked for. Despite working from home, I was still able to bring a lot of clients to them all.”
All this changed when Maria met her former boss and mentor, Lucy. They met when Maria had a job selling airline tickets to vendors. One day, Lucy asked Maria to join her staff. Although Maria had a lot to learn, Lucy knew that taking the time to teach Maria the ropes was a good investment.
Lucy was the tipping point for Maria to take her idea of self-employment and make it a reality. One day, Lucy pulled her aside to state the obvious:
“You have great capacity in the field and should open your own business.”
Maria started up her business, but was missing the materials. She learned of Accion and applied for a loan that allowed her to buy equipment for her office. She had turned 49 and was at the beginning of a new and empowering chapter in her life. The change was exciting. Yet, little did Maria know that some personal challenges were on their way. Her patience, faith and health were soon tested.
Maria’s husband became ill and had to be hospitalized.
“During this time, my business was requiring me to travel frequently, and I had to leave him behind at home. Part of the time, I slept in the hospital every other day for an entire six months. It was a sad time and things were not easy.”
“The love, encouragement and patience we have for each other got us through. But I also realized that the love that I have for my business also allowed me to persevere. If there is no love in what you do then you will not fight for it, that passion helped me get to where I still am today.”
Maria has owned Jim International Tours for 14 years. She says that it’s an accomplishment that has come with so many headaches. Yet, she wouldn’t have it any other way. The best part of her day is helping her clients with making their traveling experience easier. And, at 64 years old, Maria hasn’t even entertained the idea of retiring. She is grateful to Accion for financing her business throughout the years. With the help of Accion, she has been able to achieve her business goals when access to capital was hard to find.
Soon Maria and her husband will be celebrating 41 years of marriage. She is a proud grandmother of 3 and mother to her 38 year old son. She is also happy to still have her mother by her side, who is now 96 years old and still counting.