A loan of $3,300 helped a member invest in materials.

Fuente De La Esperanza Group's story

Santiago Atitlan has been a major city since early Mayan times and is situated on the hillside of beautiful Lake Atitlan. Atitlan is known around the lake for the strong presence of the Mayan Tzutujil people.

Despite this interesting background and beautiful scenery, the women from the group tell me this town can be dangerous at times. This is especially true for women, who are already greatly under pressure to keep their families running, and sometimes deal with attacks and suffer from the hard laws of the street. The troubled times caused by the Civil War during the eighties have influenced Santiago's contemporary reality very much; this is why Conception, who does most of the talking for the group, thinks that life in Santiago is, even today, a difficult one.

Pride and the continuing search for a better life keeps the women of this group going and they are working hard to improve their lives and the lives of the ones they love.

Most of the women work in embroidery. The Santiago Atitlan embroidery is delightful. Artisans will weave beautiful birds and Mayan symbols in their typical blouses called Guipiles. For almost all of the women this is their second, third or fourth loan. There are even some women who came from another group and have managed to establish their lives quite well after 8 years of microfinance loans, says Josefa, who is one of them herself. Josefa is the president of the group. While working in her convenience shop that she has managed to build, she works on embroidery too. She is also very happy to be able to help the younger members of the group to learn how to invest their credit well.

Conception says that it is everybody's wish to take advantage of every opportunity they have to talk to foreigners. This is because talking to foreigners is an opportunity for them to show their beautiful art to the world and this can become an opportunity to sell or even export their goods to other countries. Selling their products to foreigners will generate the earnings they deserve, especially during the tough rainy season when the prices of their weavings drop dramatically and the competition increases. This is because there is too much competition in the local market and their weavings are sold at very low prices. This means they sometimes have to sell their products under production costs just to get some money for future investments. The rest of the group very much agreed with her and gave Conception a round of applause because she has expressed herself well.

In this group: Josefa, Ana, Elena, Conception, Juana, Silvia, Francisca, Antonia, Rosa, Josefa

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