A loan of $4,400 helped a member to purchase thread for weaving and hire extra help.

Nueva Santa Catarina Group's story

In a modest room lit only by the sun, a woman sweeps the dirt floor and sets out multi-colored plastic chairs in preparation for the ‘desembolsa’, the meeting for the community bank Nueva Santa Catarina where its 11 members will have their requested loans approved. The women gather excitedly, talking rapidly in their native language K´iche´, while their children play in the folds of their dresses, giggling timidly. These women are strong and have endured much, yet more than exhaustion they emit hope and joy. As a community bank, they are proud to have been together eight years, their bank was the first of the now four banks in their small community.

Located about an hour and a half from the region’s capital, Sololá, the 11 women dedicate themselves to the beautiful and intricate art of weaving huipiles, native Mayan blouses. A single huipil can take up to one month to make, and after an investment of about 200 Quetzales (about $25), they can sell it for about 500 Quetzales (about $60). Currently, the women sell their huipiles in the nearby town of Nahuala, and they are well known in their community so customers also come directly to their home to make purchases.

Of the 11 women, almost half can read and write, which is a very large percentage for the area. They are smart in business, and are looking for new ways to expand. They’ve recognized the large number of sales that tourism brings in, and are hoping to implement an export business or connect with a nearby community where tourism is more prevalent than in their town and open a market there. As a group they are asking for a loan of 33,500 Quetzales, about $4400, $400 per person, which they will invest in various colored threads to weave their huipiles. A few of the women are also planning on using part of their loan to hire extra help so they can increase the rate of production and make more sales.

In this group: Maria Antonia, Catarina Felicita, Pascuala Teresa, Antonia, Manuela, Manuela, Manuela, Isabell, Faustina Clara, Manuela Florencia, Catarina

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