María’s childhood was very typical for the indigenous families in her village. Her mother knew how to weave and embroider, and at the age of 10, María began to learn these skills. She did not pay much interest and did not realize that this would become a great blessing to her in her adult life.
Maria and her husband Santos live in the rural community of Chimaltenango, Guatemala with their six children. Although Santos is a hard worker, his income was not enough to adequately support their growing family. María remembered the embroidery lessons from her mother and thought that this might help bring in extra income. Maria borrowed $4 from a friend. She used this to purchase yarn to knit a girdle. She finished it within a week and made $10. With her first sale, she invested the income into more yarn and knitted two more girdles. Maria slowly started growing her business piece by piece.
A few months after Maria started her side business a friend told her about Mentors International. Maria was excited about the business training classes. She didn’t have the opportunity to attend much schooling when she was younger. With guidance from her mentor, Maria applied for her first micro-loan of $132. With this money, she bought thread to make her first “güipil” (a traditional embroidered blouse), which she sold for $31.
With this income, she paid off a few debts that she had. She still could not save, but she was able to pay for food and her children’s school fees, something she had deeply longed for.
Now Maria teaches this ancestral art of weaving to her daughter Sandra, hoping that in the future her daughter will have a way to generate income when needed. But most of all Maria wants Sandra to complete her education. Maria considers Mentors International a blessing in her family’s lives. She is grateful that her mentor believed in her new business and extended a helping hand when she needed it the most.