Luzmila Huarancca Gutiérrez began making textiles at home in Ayacucho, a region located in the Andean Highlands. The quality of her work quickly attracted buyers from across Peru and abroad, and today she is a leader in the artisanal textile industry, managing a network of 800 artisans in Ayacucho.

To meet the rapidly growing demand, Huarancca trained 16 women to work with her. She is also investing her earnings in her family and community. She is improving her family’s home, enhancing the local community center, and building a store and acquiring sewing machines.

Huarancca, along with other successful women entrepreneurs, was front and center at an event in Lima last week entitled Power: Women as Drivers of Growth and Social Inclusion where President Humala of Peru, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and Executive Director of UN Women and former Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet all spoke passionately about how the success of women is key to increasing economic growth and improving lives throughout Peru and the world. The event was part of Social Inclusion week, highlighted as one of the fundamental guiding principles of President Humala’s administration.

At the conference, USAID showcased the work of Huarancca and three other Peruvian women who received USAID support to grow their businesses. The women entrepreneurs shared their stories with Peruvian national and international dignitaries, including Secretary Clinton. These women increased employment and prosperity in their communities and demonstrate the spirit, drive, and dedication needed to boost individual women into the formal economy, connect them with national and international markets, and lead their families and communities as agents of economic and social change.

In fact, two of the entrepreneurs, who had never met before, agreed to work to develop and market products together – chocolate and Brazil nuts. Listening to how these women overcame barriers and became successful business women who are giving back to their communities is inspirational and they demonstrate how these types of program interventions can inspire lasting and dramatic change for women, their families, their communities and their countries.

Read more of their stories below: