Sandra Pacqui was looking for a new challenge and to build her confidence when she found out about an opportunity to join the Amazon Region Fire Extinguisher Maintenance Service (SMERA) — a new company supported by the Lundin Foundation and Lundin Gold focused on employing women from the Los Encuentros community in Ecuador.
Launched in early 2022, SMERA was developed from a process of technical and financial studies through the NEXO, a capacity development and strengthening program, and currently has a workforce of 88% women who have professional roles at all levels — from partners to operators. The operations phase of Fruta del Norte (FDN) brings with it new opportunities for the development of local suppliers. Regional economic growth for small businesses that are both technically and financially viable is critical.
For Sandra, this opportunity has increased her technical skills and her belief in herself.
“We were trained by an engineer from Quito, who supported me by being patient and attentive to all the opinions or doubts we had had during this process,” says Sandra about the initial training.
“My experience has been beautiful, and personally, I have become a more independent and self-confident woman.”
SMERA began providing services to FDN in January 2021, and the business relationship with Lundin Gold has been developing well. The company received non-reimbursable seed capital to start activities, training and technical education and support with business and governance practices — essential components to ensure the long-term sustainability of SMERA. As a result, the company now provides new services to other local companies apart from Lundin Gold.
“Today I have been working here for one year and I am grateful to the entire team, to Lundin Foundation and to the company,” says Sandra. “I don’t know what the future holds, but I learn something new every day and I really value that experience.”