Microloans Help Guatemalan Women Reach Their Goals

by MayaWorks
Jan 5, 2012

Microloans Make a Difference for Single Mothers

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 Information


Location: Berwyn, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.mayaworks.org
Project Leader:
Jeannie Balanda
Executive Director
Chicago, Illinois United States