MayaWorks

MayaWorks' mission is to empower low-income indigenous women to end their cycle of poverty and improve their lives. MayaWorks trains artisans to transform their traditional weaving skills into a means of financial support for their families. Volunteers in the U.S. sell artisan products creating a market for the traditional arts of Maya women. This collaboration creates an opportunity for Maya women to achieve economic security and for North American women to participate in economic justice.
Dec 31, 2012

Meet Micro-Loan Recipient Margarita Yax Tucubal

Margarita Yax Tucubal was born 56 years ago in a small village of Tecpán, Guatemala.  She was one of seven children.  Her family had very little money so, from early on in her life, she was expected to find work to help with the family expenses.  At the age of eight, she left her family to work as a domestic in the home of a wealthier family in town. Margarita never attended a day of school.

At the age of 17, she fell in love and got married to a young farmer.  He was a good provider for Margarita and their three children. They were very happy but their happiness wasn't to last.  One afternoon, eight years into their marriage, soldiers came and draged her husband from their home.  She looked all over for him and sadly, after two days, she found his remains.  At 25, Margarita was a widow with three small children. 

To make ends meet, Margarita crocheted sweaters, hats and scarves and sold them in her community.  She also learned to weave.  Soon women came to her to purchase her huipiles, the traditional brightly woven shirts worn by indigenous women in Guatemala.  Within time she began to make products for MayaWorks and leaned to weave on a treadle foot loom with the help of MayaWorks trainings.

With a MayaWorks micro-loan, Margarita has purchased a sewing machine to expand the types of products she can sell. She has also purchased piglets that she cares for until they are ready to be sold at market for a very nice profit.  Margarita is very diligent about paying back her loan and has had several MayaWorks micro-loans to date.  She is an excellent example of how to manage a micro-loan for those young women who are just starting out on their income-generating projects.

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Nov 7, 2012

Opportunities for Economically Marginalized Women

Artisans of San Marcos
Artisans of San Marcos

MayaWorks works with over 125 low income indigenous women in the central highlands of Guatemala. 70% are from extremely poor and remote hamlets of the Chimaltenango and Sololá areas.

Artisans tend to marry very young and, on average, have six children.  Many are single mothers working to support large families on their own.  Most have not completed their primary education.   40% are illiterate.

Our artisan partners are not organized by cooperatives but rather by local weaving groups. They share leadership and, together, decide who will be a part of their group and what products they will make.  MayaWorks has worked with the same 8 weaving groups for over 16 years.

MayaWorks’ Guatemala operation is completely managed by indigenous women since its inception.  These administrators understand the complexities of doing business in Guatemala, speak the artisans’ native language and live in the same communities as the artisans.  More importantly, they are driven by their desire to see indigenous women progress in a country where they are often regarded as less than second class citizens.

MayaWorks believes community development happens through the economic development of women who otherwise have limited ways to contribute to the development and economic stability of their families.  Giving women an opportunity to earn an income from their skills gives them self-confidence and hope for themselves, their children, their family and their village.

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Oct 2, 2012

Loans Paid Off and New Loans Paid Out

Weaver from Santiago, Atitlan
Weaver from Santiago, Atitlan

MayaWorks is very proud of its loan recipients who make every effort to pay their microcredit loans on time!

This past month seven loan recipients finished paying off their income generating projects.  Most of these loans were used to plant crops which yielded a very nice profit this year.  Also, last month, MayaWorks awarded six new loans totaling just over $3,000.  These loans will be used mainly for textile projects.  Women will purchase thread and other equipment to make huipiles for sale to women in their communities.  Huipiles are the beautifully woven shirts that indiginous women wear everyday.

Microcredit is one of the most effective tools to combat poverty in developing countries.  It is especially effective in empowering women who often lack the employment history required by traditional lenders.  Microcredit programs require much oversite, however.  It is important to communicate regularly with loan recipients as well as provide ongoing training and development to ensure successful returns on investment.

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