In Arroyo Grande, in the municipality of La Democracia, Huehuetenango, Irma Sales is her family’s sole support.
To sustain her husband and children, she sold sandwiches, tamales, bananas and flowers, and dreamed of starting a business.
How a savings group saves livelihoods.
Access to financial institutions is limited or non-existent in rural Guatemala. The nearest bank is often too far away, the required minimum savings are high, bank fees are prohibitive, and many poor households do not trust banks.
“When the [idea of a savings] group was introduced…I knew it would be a good opportunity," she says. Irma and the 14 women in her savings group know and trust each other. “I established weekly savings goals of at least 20 quetzals [$2.50] and up to 100 quetzals [$12.50]. It wasn't easy,” she remembers.
Irma’s business ideas are flourishing.
Irma used her savings to purchase a corn and coffee mill. Now people in her community no longer need to travel long distances to grind their crops. And the money she charges for use of her mill has purchased a freezer that allows her to sell ice cream and chocolate-covered bananas.
Irma has faith that her entrepreneurship will continue to grow. Next? “I hope to start a small poultry business.”
“When the [idea of a savings] group was introduced…I knew it would be a good opportunity.”
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