Mayan Families has been providing microloans for many years. We work with women's groups in rural Guatemala. Microloans through Mayan Families offer hope to many women by allowing them to start businesses and provide more opportunities for their families and their communities.
There are exceptions, but in general the program runs like this:
First, we help start women's groups in the different villages. Within these groups we find women who would like to receive a Microloan. Each woman is entitled to either Q500 or a Q1,000.($63.00USD or $125.00USD), the choice is theirs. The money has to be used to either start a small business or enhance an existing one. Many of the women make jewelry or weave, so they have taken that money to invest in their business, and to be able to buy their supplies at wholesale prices. One woman has started a small dry goods store. Another has bought two blenders to start a juice stand. Others have used the money to buy stoves for their tortilla businesses, or dry goods to sell in an existing store.
One of the advantages of this project is that the women have had to learn how to use the banking system because the repayments are made directly into an account at the bank so the women have had to become familiar with filling out deposit slips. For many women this might have been the first time dealing with banks.
We have many women waiting who want to participate in the micro credit loan program.
It was encouraging for us that the Nobel Peace Prize had been won in 2006 by
Ithe Bangladeshi Economist, Muhammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank who won the Nobel Peace Prize for their pioneering use of tiny, insignificant loans - micro- loans - to lift millions out of poverty.
While we do not have the capacity to lift millions out of poverty we have been able to rotate our micro loans, so that the women in our groups have had the opportunity to start or enhance their own businesses, and earn more money for their families.
Here is Yunus' (and our) belief about microcredit:
Giving the poor access to credit allows them to immediately put into practice the skills they already know -- to weave, husk rice paddy, raise cows, peddle a rickshaw. And the cash they earn is then a tool, a key that unlocks a host of other abilities and allows them to explore their own potential.
-Muhammad Yunus, Banker to the Poor, 2003 p. 140
Mayan Families started its own microcredit program years ago, patterned after Yunus and Grameen Bank. Consistent with the above quote, the women borrowers are "putting into practice the skills they already know." Their businesses are weaving, beading, fruit drinks, growing beans, chickens, perfumes, selling fruits and vegetables. With their new income, the women help feed and clothe their families, send their children to school, save to improve their houses, and invest in their businesses. All this while running the house, raising kids, cooking, and making a loan payment every month!
Equally important is that these loans are empowering women, giving them control over some money and decision making, helping them help themselves and their families. Poignantly, one woman we interviewed said, "My business is a success because I haven't had to ask my husband for money for expenses."
Funding a microcredit loan makes a great gift, or a great substitute for dinner and a movie. And the best thing is, because the women repay the loan, the gift lasts and lasts. We hope to raise $200,000 to offer microcredit to these patient, hopeful women throughout rural areas of Guatemala. Please help us if you can by going to the donate now page.
Mayan Families promotes credit as a human right.
- This programs mission is to help the poor families to help themselves to overcome poverty. It is targeted to the poor, particularly poor women as conventional banks often classify the poor as "not creditworthy".
- It is offered for creating self-employment for income-generating activities.
- In order to obtain loans a borrower must join a group of borrowers.
- Loans can be received in a continuous sequence.
- A New loan becomes available to a borrower if her previous loan is repaid.
- All loans are to be paid back in installments (monthly payments).
- Unleashing of energy and creativity in each human being is this programs answer to poverty.
Mayan Families Microloans program was made to address the financial needs of the poor. It has created access to credit enabling the poor to build on their existing skills to earn a better income in each cycle of loans.