Microloans Help Guatemalan Women Reach Their Goals

 
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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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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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Weaver of San Marcos La Laguna
Weaver of San Marcos La Laguna

We are thankful to our GlobalGiving donors for their support of MayaWorks microcredit projects.  Microloans allow women to create income earning projects from the comfort of their homes while caring for their children and elderly family members.

This month MayaWorks funded five new projects in the Lake Atitlán community of San Marcos La Laguna.  All of the women will use their loans to buy thread or looms to weave products for the tourist community that visits Lake Atitlán, considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.  The artisans will create runners, place mats and napkins, shawls and purses all of which are very popular with European and North American tourists.

Earning an income from their traditional skills gives women artisans confidence and hope for the future.  Thank you to our supporters who believe that the economic development of women is the first step in securing safe and stable communities in Guatemala.

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Francisca is happy to have a steady income.
Francisca is happy to have a steady income.

Francisca hasn’t had an easy life.  The fifth of 12 children, Francisca wasn’t able to attend school.  Instead, she and her sisters worked harvesting corn and beans in her village, Agua Caliente, while her brothers went to school.

At 17 Francisca was forced to marry a man she didn’t love.  Her life with him was very difficult.  He was an alcoholic and was habitually unfaithful and did not support her or their children.  Francisca had no option but to move back with her family. Soon after moving back home, the armed conflict in Guatemala began.  Tragically, her father and two of her brothers were killed.  Francisca needed to find work to help support her mother and siblings.

She left her rural community and her children to find work in the city. Fortunately for Francisca she found work as a maid in the home of a weaver. He was kind enough to teach her how to weave on a treadle foot loom.  She was 19 and it was the first time in her life that she ever weaved!  Soon after learning this new skill she returned to her community to teach other women how to weave on the big loom.  She is the first woman in her community to weave products for MayaWorks.  Today Francisca has many looms in her home and has a MayaWorks microcredit loan to cultivate and sell blackberries for export.

 

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Maria Elena at her loom
Maria Elena at her loom

María Elena was born in San Juan Comalapa in 1970.  Her father died when she was 13 years old. Unfortunately, her mother did not have the financial means to keep María Elena and her siblings in school so, at the age of 13, María began to work to help support her family.  As is the case with many young Maya women, María began to make a living by weaving.  Initially, María spun thread but it brought her very little money.  In order to earn better wages, it was necessary that she learn to weave on a treadle foot loom. Soon after she also learned to sew which allowed her to make many more products and more money.

María married when she was 26 and has one son.  Her husband died early on in their marriage.  Being a single parent has been very difficult.  She doesn’t have someone to sow their fields and provide firewood which means she has to buy staples like corn and beans and pay for firewood.  Her son is 15 years old and is in junior high.  When he isn’t studying, he helps his mother around the house and also weaves on the foot loom to help with the household expenses.

When María isn’t weaving, she supplements her income by selling Omnilife products that she purchased with a $40 MayaWorks microcredit loan.  She loves selling nutritional supplements in her community because she feels she’s able to help people improve their quality of life.  María was very happy when her first client’s health improved using the Omnilife supplements she sold to him.  Now she has many clients who seek her out for her products and she is expanding the number of products she offers her customers.  María is well on her way to paying off her loan and securing a steady income from her product sales!

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Organization

MayaWorks

Berwyn, IL, United States
http://www.mayaworks.org

Project Leader

Jeannie Balanda

Executive Director
Chicago, Illinois United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Microloans Help Guatemalan Women Reach Their Goals