Perla's peanut recipe helped support her family. Now her story is helping others.

Perla Almaden never forgot her grandmother's peanuts.

As a child growing up in Mindanao, Philippines, she couldn't wait for her grandmother's visits and the delicious home-roasted peanuts she would bring along with her. One day, noticing Perla's love for the nuts, her grandmother decided to teach Perla her secret recipe to roast crispy peanuts without grease. Perla forever held the memory close to her heart.


Image via Jellaluna/Flickr.

Decades later in 1987, when she was a young woman, Perla married a worker from the biggest industrial company in Iligan City, the National Steel Corporation. Together they had three children, and Perla's life revolved around taking care of her family and her home.

But around 2000, everything changed.

The National Steel Corporation was shut down, devastating the local economy. The sudden loss drove the city into chaos with conflict erupting and thousands without work, including Perla's husband.

As he looked for full-time employment, Perla began taking cooking jobs to make ends meet. And in the meantime, she made home-roasted peanuts from her grandmother's recipe as an inexpensive way to feed her family.

Word of Perla's amazing peanuts spread. Neighbors who tasted them began encouraging her to sell them, and before she knew it, Perla had begun her own business, selling the special greaseless roasted peanuts that she had loved so much as a child.

Images from the Global Fund for Women, used with permission.

And with that, Perla became an entrepreneur.

As she sold her peanuts locally, she caught the attention of Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation, an organization that works to empower Filipino migrant entrepreneurs. They believed in Perla and her product and gave her the skills training she needed to effectively run and manage a business. They also gave her a loan to help the business grow.

Armed with the loan and new skills, she formally launched Fem-Fem Delicious Crispy Peanuts in 2003, and the company quickly became successful, earning placement on store shelves and in malls in city after city.

Ultimately, the income from Perla's successful business helped her send all three of her children to college.

But that's not all. Her work also empowered her during a dark period in her life: living through domestic violence.

Perla spoke openly to the Global Fund for Women about the experience and the role financial independence played in her survival:

"For me, if a woman is without economic empowerment, it is very difficult for women without any income. ... I experienced [domestic] violence ... [and] my husband had another girl. This really didn’t affect me because I have work and I can send my children [to school] without my husband. Then I realized if women [are] without work or [if they are] not empowered, it is really difficult for women."

Today, 13 years after launching her company, Perla understands the power of her story to help other women.

Her husband now runs the day-to-day operations of the business while she works with Unlad offering financial guidance to other female entrepreneurs, sharing her skills and her story. Her reasoning for that work is simple:

"If a woman have income, she can support her family and herself. It is very important that the woman has income for herself. ... And she can also help other women. For me, I can really help other women through my skills and my experiences. I really enjoy helping other women because I can relate my experience to them. Actual experience is important … because I experienced it not only in theory but personally."

Those experiences became especially valuable in 2012 and 2013 when major typhoons rocked the tiny islands of the Philippines. Perla volunteered to help those displaced by the natural disaster and took particular interest in the female coconut farmers who had lost their livelihoods due to the destruction of the coconut trees. She worked with those women to help them develop the financial management and entrepreneurial skills necessary to get them back on their feet and earn a living.

Perla said that it was in those moments of helping her fellow women that she felt most like a strong woman herself. Her strength comes not from her own success, but in her ability to make others be successful, too.

All around the world, women and girls are regularly denied opportunities to control their own financial stability, security, and well-being.

Injustices like unequal access to education, the inability to open bank accounts and apply for jobs, and unequal pay are just a few of the barriers that hold women back.

But stories like Perla's — of women using the skills and resources they have to take charge of their economic well-being — are a reminder of what can happen when an investment is made in women and their work. Not only can her life be changed, but so can the lives of countless others.

Her story proves that for women, entrepreneurship — like her grandmother's peanut recipe — is the gift that just keeps on giving.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.