Josefa Silvia Ixtuc Mejía is from Chichicastenango (Chichi), one of Guatemala’s most historical trading towns. At 6 years old, Silvia learned how to knit from her family, who sold their products in Chichi’s famous open-air craft market. Eventually, after practicing how to make quality cushions, shorts, skirts, and pants, Silvia graduated to street vendor.
At the beginning stages of her career making and selling clothes, Silvia ran into many disheartening limitations. She rented a small space to live and work on her products, but barely made ends meet. When she eventually managed to save enough money to afford her own land and build a house, she couldn’t afford the installation of electrical power; this put a hold on her ability to use mechanical sewing machines to produce products at a faster rate in order to meet their demand. Silvia wanted to expand her growing business but struggled to find the financial and technical support that she longed for.
When she heard about Friendship Bridge’s micro-finance loans in 2009, she joined the artisan team with an initial loan of Q2,000.00. After 9 cycles she now manages Q13,000.00! Thanks to Friendship Bridge, Silvia has been able to increase her capital and expand her business. She now delivers purses, backpacks, and clothes to wholesalers and clients in Antigua, and continues to sell weekly at her beloved market in Chichicastenango. A member of her Trust Bank, Artisan Women, she also participates in important business seminars at Friendship Bridge regarding savings, management, budgeting, and over-indebtedness. With her current income, Silvia is able to pay for her daughter to go to school, and to keep her family afloat.