Guatemalan elder epitomizes entrepreneurial spirit

A can-do candy man

December 01, 2020 | Be Inspired

Guatemalan elder Carlos is an entrepreneur at heart. Despite the setback of a fire destroying his home and livelihood, he used benefits from his Unbound sponsorship to restart his candy-making business. 

Entrepreneurs are often sources of determination, perseverance and ingenuity.

That's certainly true of 77-year-old sponsored elder Carlos in Guatemala.

To earn a living, he came up with his own candy product: straws filled with colored sprinkles, tied off with a small toy or accessory. With his creative thinking, Carlos managed to corner the market.

"To be honest, I don’t have any competition," he said. "It’s not a big business, but it’s one way. It has helped me and this is a business district."

Carlos lives and works in Chimaltenango, a town west of Guatemala City. He built up his clientele in the area and has even learned words in some local Mayan languages to better communicate with his customers. He starts his days early, drinking coffee before making his rounds.

"Depending on the town I go to, I leave by 6 a.m., 6:15, I leave and I’m in the truck," he said. "And by midday, 2 o'clock, I would be on my way home. I’ve sold everything. I already have my clientele. It takes a while to know they are there, but I've found out that the people from here are excellent. They’re great customers; they already know me."

Carlos is one of more than 32,000 elders taking part in the Unbound program. With sponsorship, elders have better access to basic needs like medical care, nutritious food and stable housing. In addition to addressing physical needs, Unbound sponsorship strives to address issues of isolation and loneliness often documented among elders around the world.

Carlos creates individual servings of sprinkles using straws that are sealed at one end. Once the straws are filled, he seals off the top with a small toy or accessory.


With the joy Carlos exudes, it's hard to imagine the adversity he's faced in the past. The room where he lived, including the supplies to make his candy, was destroyed in an electrical fire. Carlos was out making sales at the time, so he was unharmed physically. Though things looked bleak, he didn't let that stop him. With extra funds from Unbound, Carlos replaced what was lost and started selling his candy again.

Carlos has been sponsored by Michael and Nancy in Michigan since 2016. He receives sponsorship benefits deposited to his personal bank account, which allows him to use the funds for what he needs most.

I really am grateful for the support to help me in everything, it’s helped me. I’m thankful to the [local Unbound staff], they’re great people. I’ve found them to be a helping a hand. An excellent helping hand. I’m grateful that they sponsor elderly as well as children.

— Carlos, sponsored Unbound elder