The nine children who attend My First Steps Daycare spend portions of each day in different sections of the new
colorful and spacious room designed especially for them by Maritza Barios de Argueta, the daycare’s owner. “There is a play area, a reading nook, a learning corner, a snack space, and of course, a spot for naps,” Maritza says. “The kids love to rotate through their own special space rather than being in my living room. I love it, too. I was able to build out this dedicated space thanks to a $10,000 loan from Accion.”

Maritza was a teacher in Guatemala. When she moved to Chicago she wanted to continue to work with children but in a different setting. She took various jobs at several daycare centers to gain experience. She compiled a list of ideas for the day that she would open her own daycare. In 2011 she started My First Steps Daycare with only one child.

As the business grew, the children took over more and more of her home. In addition, the families she serves work long hours so the daycare is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Maritza hired her daughter and one part-time person but it was clear the children needed their own dedicated space separate from Maritza’s home. “That’s where Accion really helped,” she says. “A bank would not give me a loan.”

Maritza heard about Accion at the Women’s Business Devellopment Center, one of our local partner organizations. With this extension of her home complete, Maritza can now focus building her client base to 15 children to fill up the new space.

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