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My Entrepreneurial Ecuadorian

By - November 2013

When I met my wife Ana in Quito, Ecuador, almost thirteen years ago, I didn't know that she had been such a entrepreneur as a child. Of course, over the years of our marriage I heard many of the stories. I also saw that her grandmother was an influence, since she was always looking to lend money to make interest, or to build another rental home. Then one night, while working on this website, I asked Ana to list the ways she had made money, starting with what she did as a child in Ecuador. Some are unusual, and others might suggest some usable ideas for entrepreneurial individuals here in the states.

Ana's First Business

Ana tells me that when she was 8 years old she had a collection of comic books. Most of the kids where she lived could not afford to buy them, even second-hand, so selling the comic books was not really a viable option. However, the children did have enough money to rent the comic books. Ana rented them out for a day, perhaps making more than she could have by selling them in any case. This was Ana's first business. Here are some of the others she and her grandparents had.

Food Sales

Ana and her grandfather used to stand at the gate of a factory that was near their house and sell sandwiches to the workers when they took their breaks. They made the sandwiches themselves, of course, and she tells me that sales were brisk at times.

They also sold homemade ice cream, popsicles and Coca Cola out of their house when they lived in Guayaquil. They happened to be living next to a school, so they had a good market. They made a sign and put it on the front of the house to let the kids know what was available. You can do that sort of thing in Ecuador without the permits and other regulations you would face here.

Mystic Services

Ana's grandmother read tarot cards for people, and sold "blessed" perfume. Ana helped her with the bottling and selling of "magic water" as well. By the time Ana was in her teens, she helped her grandmother sell typed prayers that were then read by customers repeatedly for good luck. Expanding into related niches, her grandmother also did séances in the house.

Other Services

Ana did help her grandmother with some more ordinary services as well. For example, they did sewing and hair cutting. I happen to know that her grandmother gives an excellent haircut, even now that she is over 80 years old, since she has cut my hair four times now. By the way, did I mention that Ana's grandmother was, until recently (and maybe still), a loan shark? She collects as much as 10% monthly on her loans.

Homework Helper

Being a very intelligent girl, it is no surprise that Ana sold her homework services to other students when she was a teenager. Being very smart, it also is not too surprising that she was never caught.

Love Letter Service

Teenagers who wanted to impress someone they had a crush on, but who didn't know what to say, could come to Ana. She would prepare a personalized love letter for them. Naturally they could then pass it off as their own.


Along with love letters, students and friends could hire Ana to write poems for them or for their loved ones. Ana kept up this practice, and later became a famous poet in Ecuador. She has published several books since coming to the United States.


Although jobs are not as entrepreneurial, Ana had a few interesting ones along the way. She has worked as a journalist and a character voice on a radio show. She also has been a teacher at various schools and colleges.

Spanish Tutor

When I met Ana in Quito she was giving Spanish lessons to tourists who were staying at a hostel. The owner of the place kept half of the payment for arranging the lessons. I had only a lesson or two with her before I decided I would love to be tutored by her for life. We kept in touch, and less than a year later we were married.

Doing Business in the States

Ana tolerated the renters in our home when we were first married, and went along with other ventures that I got into. We even spent a summer driving around in our van trying to make money at flea markets -- but that's a story in itself. Ana gave Spanish lessons in a carpeted shed in the yard when we lived in Michigan. Here are a couple more items to add to her business resume...

Website Designer

In our internet business Ana was always the technical expert. She's much better than me at figuring out software and the rest of the technical side of things. She designed our sites and is still sometimes interrupted by me when something needs to be downloaded and installed, or book covers need to be made.

Internet Publisher

Although Ana is no longer working actively in our internet business, the self-improvement site (in Spanish) that she created years ago, www.tusuperacionpersonal.com, still produces a nice chunk of monthly income.


Ana, in addition to being the love of my life, is very unique, but I think I can also risk the generalization that Ecuadorians tend to be very entrepreneurial. It's fun to ride a bus in Ecuador and watch vendors move up and down the aisles selling everything from jewelry to ice cream to magazines. It's nice to go to the beach and have people bring chairs to you for rent, while others bring beer to drink or peanuts to eat. See the page on our travel site about our trip to the beach in Salinas for more about all the beach businesses. Now that credit is easier to obtain in Ecuador (car loans, home mortgages, and loans in general have become much more common in the last ten years), I suspect the economy will do well as all of that entrepreneurial energy is put to work on a larger scale.

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