At the end of a long, windy, and bumpy dirt road – well beyond the point where public transportation ends – you come to the home of Marcelina Concepión Vasquez, a FINCA microfinance client. There nestled in the rural highlands of Santa Cruz del Quiché, Guatemala, one can appreciate a breathtaking vista: cascading green hills serrating wispy clouds on the blue horizon.
Yet, despite the landscape’s beauty, enterprising women like Marcelina have little time to stop and appreciate the panoramic view.
Four years ago, Marcelina and her family were just barely making it. Marcelina was working as a seamstress out of the home making huipiles, a traditional garment worn by indigenous Mayan women. Her husband, Carlos Martin De Leon Us, was spinning an enormous weaving loom in a shed just outside. With three children to provide for, it always seemed like they were one slow business week away from falling helplessly behind.
“One day,” Marcelina recounted, “I paid a visit to my mother, Rosa, who lives closer to town. I told her about our business struggles. That’s when I learned about FINCA loans,” said Marcelina, with a smile spreading across her face.
Taking Her Mother’s Advice
Marcelina had no sooner mentioned financial worries for her family than Rosa, a FINCA client, suggested applying for a loan.
The obvious use would be for Marcelina’s sewing business, but a look around the community gave her another thought. Considering how far she traveled to buy groceries and other necessities, Marcelina figured her neighbors must share the same frustration. It was this same insightful thinking that led her mother to open a flour mill years earlier.
Using an initial loan of nearly $1,000, Marcelina constructed a wooden stall outside her home with a locking door, customer service window, and product display shelves. What used to be a few odd products strewn about was now converted into a fully stocked mini general store. It wasn’t long before neighbors began frequenting Marcelina’s little shop.
Next, she used another FINCA loan to purchase a motorcycle for buying supplies in town, delivering products to customers, and for dropping off her kids at school, which is far away.
“I only got to the 2nd grade, and my husband to 6th,” said Marcelina. “Our two boys made it to 9th grade. But we hope to send our daughter to college so she can become a business administrator.”
With the general store up and running, Marcelina returned her attention to her first business as a seamstress. She took a loan from FINCA to purchase a second sewing machine, which she used to teach her children. Now they help fulfill orders when Marcelina is busy on another project or in the shop.
Once she had two businesses under her belt, Marcelina could cover existing debts. All the profits from Marcelina’s hard work and ingenuity are funneled right back to her family. This is unsurprising.
As noted by UN Women, evidence from a range of countries shows that when women earn an income, money is more likely to be spent on education and medical expenses. This leads to more resilient, safer and healthier living.
Thanks to the helping hand of a FINCA loan, Marcelina is proud to provide a better life for her children.
Dear God, if I tell you about the life that I had compared to the one I can give my children now thanks to my businesses, the difference is so big. I grew up very poor, but now I can provide my kids with plenty of clothes and food to eat.