From the outside, Olga’s home on a small farm in Guatemala’s countryside looks humble, but inside it is buzzing with activity as she and her employees are busy at work. Olga’s determination and spirit are evident from the moment you meet her. An infectious smile on her face and sparkle in her eye, Olga says she is accomplishing things she had never dreamt for her life. Born into a poor, indigenous family in rural Guatemala, Olga’s entrepreneurial spirit and her drive have allowed her, at age 34, to build a growing business.
Olga (on the left with her mother) grew up in a small town in the department of Sololá, and still lives there with her husband and has two children. Olga learned how to weave when she was nine years old, and her first projects included hand-crafted belts, beaded hair clips, and ankle bracelets.
Eventually, Olga met a beaded handicraft vendor in in a city near her home. She placed her first order, which included bracelets and eyeglass cases. Her clients were pleased with the quality of her products and demand grew steadily. Olga hired four women who she taught to make various beaded handicrafts. Some of her seven sisters also began to work with her small – but growing – business.
Years later, Olga got married and wanted to help her husband provide for their family. She was still producing beaded products and found a new buyer who purchased her products in larger quantities. She contracted other women in her community to assist with the increased demand and currently has twenty-five women on her production team.
Olga joined a Friendship Bridge Trust Bank in 2007 when she was looking to grow her business. Her initial loan was for approximately $300. She worked hard, paid back her $300 loan, and has now successfully completed 14 loan cycles and has a loan for $1,200 from Friendship Bridge. She is the president of her Trust Bank, motivating other women to grow their businesses and become empowered.
Olga joined Friendship Bridge’s Artisan Project in 2016, which has sparked new business growth. She has participated in trainings on topics including quality control, cost management, and new product design. These trainings have also taught her about exporting products to the U.S. and overseas.
Olga has a strong commitment to improve her life through entrepreneurship, a positive attitude, and hard work. Thanks to Friendship Bridge, she now has the opportunity to grow her business through new clients. All the while, Olga continues to work toward her dreams of building her own house, earning her college degree, assisting in the education of her children, and traveling to the U.S to participate in international trade shows to market her artisan products.