A loan of $4,575 helped a member to diversify her inventory of clothing.

Amistad Group's story

Gregoria Catarina, better known as Catarina, is a member of the Amistad Trust Bank, which is located in a rural area of Juchanep, a verdant and chilly part of Totonicapán in southwestern Guatemala. The area is famous for its handmade fabrics, majolica ceramics and wood products.

Thirty-four years old, Catarina lives in a single-room structure with her husband, a tailor, and her two girls (11 and 8 years old) who are currently in primary school. She says that her biggest challenge is raising her girls, as she travels often for her business. Catarina enjoys cooking and spending time with her family whenever she can. Catarina is known as an outstanding member of her Trust Bank because of her positive attitude and good sense of humor, and also because she works hard every single day in order to give the best to her family. Catarina is so excited to get a new loan with Friendship Bridge after successfully repaying her previous loan, which helped to grow her business. Catarina's business is selling traditional clothing, which includes different types of huipils (typical blouses), typical skirts, belts, and aprons. As she wants to increase sales, Catarina is excited to use this loan to diversify her inventory of typical clothing so that she is able to respond to her customers’ demands. She wants to provide the newest fashions to her customers, so she is happy to buy products from four weavers from different regions. By supporting the businesses of these other women, they too can sustain their families. She says, "I seek for the common good, because we have needs from each other." Catarina currently sells in three different places, some as far as an hour away from home. She must get up at 4 am daily to prepare her products and transport them in minivans, buses and pick-ups.

Catarina appreciates the education lessons Friendship Bridge provides at the monthly loan repayment meetings and finds them beneficial in achieving both her business and personal goals. Catarina's biggest dream is that her business will become self-sustaining so that it will continue to provide income, which will support her girls' education. Over time Catarina has improved her business's administration, all thanks to the business management training provided by Friendship Bridge. In addition, her first child is completing elementary school this year. Catarina is proud that she has been able to support her because of what she has learned through Friendship Bridge’s curriculum that teaches parents how to support their children through school. Catarina only studied through 5th grade. She says that she can't imagine what great things her girls will be able to do if they continue their education. She wants her daughters to follow their dreams, become great professionals and serve the community.

Like Catarina, the 11 other members of the Amistad Trust Bank, most of whom are also mothers, do business in textiles, clothing sales and tailoring, among other trades. They are so happy to be able to obtain another loan to grow their businesses, and thus continue to support their families. The 12 women acknowledge their financial support from people around the world and are grateful that they have opened their hearts to them.

In this group: Maria Josefina, Jesus Matias, Juana Elena, Nicolasa Petrona, Juana Maria, Transito Micaela, Dolores Patricia, Gregoria Catarina, Ana Angelina, Debora Rosario, Manuela Hermelinda, Cristina

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