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From the Field: Loans Help Tortilla Shop Owner with Business, Family

Boiling Dough

Maria’s daughter pours the mix into a pot for boiling.

Microloan Stove

Tortilla shop owner Maria uses the stove she purchased with a microloan to make tasty black tortillas.

black corn tortillas

Maria’s black corn tortillas are popular with her customers.

By Amanda Schweikert, KIVA intern

María lives in lovely Santa Cruz del Quiché in southern Guatemala. Until recently, she owned and operated a tortilla shop and a small restaurant. Her grueling daily routine involved rising at 5 a.m., making tortillas and helping her daughter and two spirited granddaughters prepare for their days. Then she would return to rolling out the dough for tortillas, baking them and selling them. At 3 p.m., she would eat lunch, clean the house and spent time with her family until 6 p.m. when she would again make and sell tortillas in the market until midnight. Her long day would end with dinner and bed around 2 a.m.

When María turned 63, she became very sick and took on fewer responsibilities. She now just operates the tortilla shop where customers stop by to purchase delicious black corn tortillas and lunch made by her daughter. This motivated woman is healthy once again, and enjoys caring for her family and operating her business. After 58 years of experience, running her shop comes very natural to María. Her adept hands form and flatten the dough and the perfectly shaped tortillas of all the same size are truly artful.

Through her business, María has been able to provide an education for her five children. Two of them manage their own businesses in the capital city of Guatemala, two are finishing polytechnic school and the eldest daughter helps her mother in the tortilla shop. A bright smile lights up Maria’s face whenever she speaks of her children, clearly proud of their success and the opportunities they have had.

As part of a Trust Bank, or accountability group for loan repayments, María was able to use loans to buy stoves for her business and increase production. The Friendship Bridge Trust Bank is a supportive community to help her expand her business and gain self-confidence when making financial decisions that impact her family’s future. her determined spirit impacts everyone María meets and has provided a better life for her and her children.

Amanda Schweikert is a field blogger providing KIVA reports for Friendship Bridge. She also teaches part-time at the Lake Atitlan Multicultural Academy.