The women of the group ‘Inocentes’ gather early for their meeting in a fashion of familiarity, having conquered the unknown of their first loan cycle, and ready and waiting with confidence and hope for their second. Today they will get their requested loan amounts approved, and are eagerly chatting in their native language, Kaqchiquel, sharing family happenings and business ideas. All sixteen women know each other well, living as neighbors in the nearby community of San Jorge la Laguna, a town perfectly situated between the region’s capital of Sololá and its tourist capital, Panajachel. In addition to being neighbors, they are now confidants in a solidarity group, sixteen women who are learning to support each other in struggles and in triumphs. All sixteen women were successful with their first loan this past year, and are looking forward to taking on the challenge of slightly bigger loans this time around.
The women are artisans, born into a culture rich in beaded jewelry and weavings. All of the women have businesses related to these crafts. They will invest their loans in tiny translucent beads of every color, with which they will make intricate bracelets, necklaces, and other crafts, like eyeglass chains. Others will invest in thread for weaving. They are skilled in the art of weaving fine huipiles, the traditional Mayan blouse, which can take up to three months to make. They also weave skirts, scarves, and head wraps. All the women are ‘ambulantes’, meaning they carry their products with them, most often in a basket on their head, through the streets of Panajachel, bargaining with and selling to the hundreds of tourists that come through the town. Laura Teresa, a voice for the group, shares that for every 1000 quetzales of investment they will earn about 2000 quetzales.
All of the women have families, the younger women having two or three children each, and some of the older women having as many as nine children, many of whom are still under their care. They have all been working as ambulantes for about six years, and started their businesses to help support their families. The women of Inocentes are eager for their second loan, very pleased with the success they found after the first investment. They found they were able to not only increase their inventory, but also expand the variety, keeping them a step ahead of the competition. They are asking for a loan of 34,800 quetzales, $4550, ranging from $100 to $400 per person.
The three women who are not pictured were at the meeting but had to leave before the picture was taken to take care of their children.
About Friendship BridgeThis loan is administered by Friendship Bridge (FB), a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that empowers thousands of impoverished Guatemalan women through its Microcredit Plus program. The program combines small loans averaging US$350 for four-to-twelve month loan terms with non-formal, participatory education.
As FB clients, women start, expand, or diversify their businesses and learn practical lessons on topics including business, health, and self-esteem. FB’s clients borrow as a group, forming Trust Banks (groups of 7-25 women who serve as co-guarantors of the loan and act as a self-regulating support network).
This is a Group Loan
In a group loan, each member of the group receives an individual loan but is part of a larger group of individuals. The group is there to provide support to the members and to provide a system of peer pressure, but groups may or may not be formally bound by a group guarantee. In cases where there is a group guarantee, members of the group are responsible for paying back the loans of their fellow group members in the case of delinquency or default.
Kiva's Field Partners typically feature one borrower from a group. The loan description, sector, and other attributes for a group loan profile are determined by the featured borrower's loan. The other members of the group are not required to use their loans for the same purpose.
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Success!! The loan was 100% repaid