Dreaming Together Hardware and General Store

Sonañdo Juntos Ferretería y Tienda

June 2020

In 2010, 30 women in our microcredit program approached us with a new dream – a hardware store in Chacraseca. JustHope funded the building with a $10,000 donation and the store inventory with a $6,000 interest-free loan. All the women signed the note, and Ferretería Soñando Juntos (Dreaming Together Hardware Store) opened, aptly named for representing big dreams for a small but mighty group of women.

We are saddened to report that JustHope, Chacraseca community leaders, and the group of women made the painful decision to close the ferretería in May 2020. Two years of civil unrest followed by the outbreak of COVID-19 made keeping it open impossible and dangerous.

One could simply view the ferretería as a project that “didn’t make it.” But that would be far from the truth. JustHope founder Leslie Penrose says it was “perhaps the most important and impactful project or program that JustHope has had in its 13-year history.” It served the women, the community and JustHope well for its 10-year run. Some of its legacies:

Transforming the way women are viewed and treated in Chacraseca and the way they see themselves – Together they worked for a dream and realized it, rejected disparaging labels, resisted discouraging expectations, and revolutionized women’s perceptions and place in their community.

Learning to adapt – When selling hardware and grains wasn’t enough to pay the bills, the women added clothing, then bicycle parts, and later hot food to go. When children couldn’t afford school supplies or get to León to buy them, the ferretería sold them at discounted prices. When civil unrest in Nicaragua shut down partner projects and reduced local customers, the ferreterÍa sold cold drinks to passing trucks.

Serving as a safe space – When some men refused to allow their wives to hold microcredit meetings in their houses, the ferretería became a meeting place. When a transgender teen was abused because of transphobia, the ferretería hired Eddy and became a haven while he attended college. (Eddy graduates this year with a nursing degree.)

Reaffirming JustHope values – We relearned the importance of listening – especially to voices that have been silenced, hidden or denied. We also learned the importance of ongoing accompaniment. Without one another, none of the women would have had the courage and stamina to stay the course. And without ongoing encouragement and solidarity from their North American partners, they couldn’t have continued to dream new dreams.

While Ferretería Soñando Juntos is no longer, we hope its legacy continues to inspire all in Chacraseca – especially women – about what is possible when we dream together.

Ferretería Timeline

  • Early 2010 - Women who were part of the Microcredit Program approached JustHope with a dream for a community hardware store. JustHope provides funds for building and inventory. It opens later that year.
  • March 2013 - Expansion from hardware store into a general store
  • September 2015 - Building expansion to accomodate more clothing
  • May 2016 - Cafetín (mini cafe) opens as part of the Ferretería business plan
  • 2018 - Civil unrest causes a shut-down and reduced business.
  • 2020 - The COVID pandemic continued shutdown, leading to its eventual closing.