by Rachel Turner
Being widowed can be a poverty sentence for a woman in rural Guatemala – especially when she has a child. However, Martha was determined to create a good life for herself and for her daughter. She started a small corner store in her village but lacked the financial capital to make it flourish. She had heard about Friendship Bridge’s microcredit services and decided to check it out. She joined a Trust Bank, a group of women borrowing together, and grew her small business into a gift store. At her monthly repayment meetings, she received training about business, health, women’s rights, and family. Over time she began to realize her potential as an entrepreneur. She continued to look for opportunities to diversify her business and knowledge which led her to Friendship Bridge workshops on baking and designing decorations.
During this time, Martha also met and married her second husband. They had two more daughters. From young ages, Martha taught her daughters that the key to achieving goals is hard work and determination. She inspired her daughters to make education a priority by going back to school and proudly graduating from ninth grade even as she ran a store, baked cakes, and made decorations for special events. She attended a workshop on nutrition to learn how to better care for herself and her daughters. “I want them to be healthy and focused in school,” said Martha. “Education is the foundation for the girls to be successful in their futures.”
Little by little, Martha has improved their lives through a better home, as well as a large space to receive and work with clients.
“Thanks to the loans, I have been able to diversify my business because I have the necessary financial capital to work with,” said Martha. “Now my three daughters have the opportunity to go to school. I want my daughters to have better opportunities – those that I did not have.”
Through Friendship Bridge’s programs and services, nearly 30,000 women are receiving quality education in business, health, women’s rights, and family. Many of these women are also prioritizing their children’s education providing a foundation for their futures. Friendship Bridge is committed to helping meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 4 – providing quality education.