Rosa Aguilar: One Mother Fighting for Her Dreams
Rosa Amanda Aguilar has a long history with the land that is ZEDE (Zone of Employment and Economic Development) Ciudad Morazán. For many years, she lived less than a kilometer from the spot where she is now growing her business.
This land has always been agricultural land. Thirteen years ago, Rosa lived on the farm with her husband, Rosales Peña, and her three-year-old son Ariel. It was not an easy life. One night, the family was attacked by a gang. They were robbed, but Rosa credits her visible pregnancy with saving them from being injured. Afterward, they moved to another farm that was also near what is now Ciudad Morazán.
Rosa had a daughter, Allison, and then another son, Dario Yandel, six years later. Rosales raises cattle and horses, but it is hard to feed three children and take care of Rosa’s parents, who live with them.
Rosa made a little extra money by selling food out of her home. However, she only had a few occasional customers. Starting even a very small business in Honduras is expensive and time-consuming and exposes the owner to extortion from local gangs.
Meanwhile, the owner of the land near where Rosa had lived was only raising king grass to be used for biofuel. In 2020, he was happy to sell the land to Ciudad Morazán.
Rosa Amanda Aguilar, the first commercial resident of Ciudad Morazán
Rosa was close enough to the ZEDE to notice the workers building the first warehouses in late 2020. She saw a need and an opportunity and started carrying drinks and snacks to sell to the workers.
Rosa found a nice shady spot under some trees inside the ZEDE and asked the construction manager if she could sell her products there. Soon after, her mother helped her build a small metal shack so she didn’t have to carry all her products to the site every day.
Early construction in the ZEDE
Metal shack first used by Rosa
Ciudad Morazán is a community designed to encourage entrepreneurship, so starting a business is fast and inexpensive. Because of the ZEDE’s semiautonomous status, the commercial regulations are simpler than in the rest of Honduras. The tenants choose to enter into voluntary contracts that spell out their rights and responsibilities so they can be sure the rules won’t be changed on them.
Rosa was offered a contract with Ciudad Morazán to rent the space she had chosen for $10 per month. When she understood all the terms of the agreement, she was pleased to agree. The construction manager sent over a couple of workers to make her hut somewhat sturdier. A little later, Rosa added a stove to make lunches and a couple of picnic tables for her customers.
Even before the first residents moved in, Rosa had a good business providing soft drinks, snacks, and lunches to the construction workers. She was happy with her location and the security of her store. Even though Rosa had to carry in ice every day to keep her water and soft drinks cold, she had all she needed. She cheerfully greeted her customers as they came by throughout the day.