A loan of $2,500 helped a member to purchase thread for weaving, seeds, fertilizer, and feed for animals, and inventory for stores.

Union Y Fuerza Group's story

The ten women who comprise the "Unión y Fuerza" (Union and Strength) group are coming together for their first loan from Friendship Bridge. They know each other well, raising their families in the same neighborhood of Chimaltenango. The ten women represent various aspects of modern and traditional Guatemala, both in their dress and their businesses.

About half of the women hold tight to their traditional upbringing, wearing the "huipiles" (traditional Mayan blouse) that they also weave to sell.

They will use their loans to invest in buying thread in bulk, something they have not been able to purchase before. Until now, every time they receive an order for a huipil, they must travel to the market and purchase only enough thread for the one blouse. This raises the cost of the thread, because they don’t receive a bulk discount, and it also is very time consuming. Now they will be able to purchase a large amount of thread that will serve them for many months.

These women also have small farms where they grow corn and beans, as well as raising pigs, cows, and chickens. With part of their loan, they will purchase seed, fertilizer, and feed for the animals.

The remaining women, dressed in jeans and button-down shirts, while remaining faithful to their Mayan upbringing, have also connected to the modern life in the nearby capital city of Guatemala. These women have small "tiendas" (shops) where they sell soft drinks, snacks, and daily necessities, such as shampoo and toilet paper. They also sell products from catalogs, mainly shoes, clothes, make-up and perfume. Their stores are a great outlet for selling from catalogs, because they already have a customer base that are coming to rely on them for other items they can order.

Their loans will be used to restock their stores. They are very excited about being able to expand their variety and have full shelves. Now, they often run out of product and have empty shelves that don’t look very inviting to passersby. They will also order popular items from the catalogs to have on hand in their stores, which will enable them to buy at a bulk rate and help to expand their on-hand inventory.

Whether dressed in jeans or woven skirts, the ten women have a common dream: to better provide for their families. They will work together over the next six months, supporting each other with loan advice and sharing ideas and best practices. While a bit nervous about taking on a new challenge, they are confident in their abilities to generate income with their new loan. They are asking for a group loan of 19,000 quetzales, about $2500 USD.

The photo is of the ten women and their 'facilitadora' (loan officer) outside the office of Friendship Bridge in Chimaltenango.

In this group: Maria Antonieta, Rafaela Maercedes, Blanca Lidia, Claudia Yolanda, Maria Norberta, Miriam Elizabeth, Isabel, Elizabeth, Eugenia Maribel, Gabriela Misel

Loan details

Lenders and lending teams

Loan details