About the Project
The idea for a microloan project was conceived during a November 2013 women's retreat in Guatemala attended by four representatives each from the three partner presbyteries of Suchitepequez, Sur Occidente, and the Presbytery of Western North Carolina. Four groups were formed, and following initial training participants received small loans to start or expand business ventures.
The microloan project has provided many benefits not only for the women participants, but for their husbands and families as well.
Churches and communities also benefit when women are strengthened and learn new skills.
Participants face many challenges including animals that get sick and die, slow sales, and family health problems.
The worsening economic situation in the country is having an impact on the microloan groups.
ADEHGUA works with the women to provide support and help them manage the challenges.
This project has provided women opportunities for new experiences.
Women who had never cashed a check are learning financial and business skills.
The habit of saving money is becoming just that—a habit!
Women are gaining confidence and hope as a result of their participation.
Women are becoming leaders or being strengthened in their natural leadership.
Women are gaining valuable experience in working together in groups.
In many cases, husbands and children are involved in business ventures, strengthening the family unit.
Business ventures have contributed to family expenses of putting food on the table and sending children to school.
Women are applying and sharing what they learn with their families.
Groups are enjoying increased dialogue and a greater ability to identify and resolve conflict.
In the words of women from Coatepeque: "We learned to share experiences, we strengthen ourselves, we come to know one another, it is a blessing. We learn to deal with different characters and temperaments in the group, we learn to be more patient, we love our way of being."
Any, who sells used clothing, with her husband was able to move to a new home that was safer for their children.
Marcia was able to use profits from her store to help send her children to school. Her 13 year old daughter was able to leave her job to concentrate on her studies.
When Magalí's husband's job and pay were cut in half, Magalí was able to increase the number of chickens and pigs she raised in order to provide the income her family needed.
Debora, 23, has helped with family expenses following the death of her father. She is selling food and has hopes and dreams for her future, and for the future of her younger siblings.
"This has helped me lose my fear, before I was very shy. I had other loans when I was single, but I did not know how to invest; I spent the money on things for myself. The constancy, the presence [of ADEHGUA] helps us to be more responsible with the investment and the payment of the credit. I am no longer embarrassed to sell in the market, now I have something to give to my children. I have taken the credit, I have invested it and it has helped me a lot. My husband says: ‘Púchica! Your husband is not working but your children have apples, peaches, look at the fridge; there is food. If you were not selling, what would we do?’ Before he did not value much what I did; now he thanks me, he helps me. Three months ago he lost his job on the farm, now he works by the day, but we both struggle for the family."
Any, a member of the microloan group "Women Uniting Efforts"
Along with the microloan training and experience, the other essential component of the Guatemala Microloan Project is the process of formation.