Micro Loan Success
Tierra Linda Mayan women have a 100% success rate with micro loans for the third straight year.
“The program has been so successful that PASO POR PASSO has increased the number of loans from 20 to 25,” says PASO president Patricia Pretty of Orillia, Ontario.
Tierra Linda is a small mountain village a thousand feet above Panajachel Guatemala with spectacular views of Lake Atitlan and its volcanoes outlining the western horizon.
It is a poor agricultural village of perhaps 2000 inhabitants resting on the edge of the caldera. The volcanic soil is rich, but the village is accessible only by a rough mountain road or via a steep footpath through the terraces and straight down the mountainside. It is a 40 minute trip from Panajachel.
Tierra Linda’s Women’s Committee
Village women have learned to organize and supervise PASO’s micro loan program. Recipients are chosen democratically by lot for the interest free loans. This year 50 women gathered to make the draw. Each of the 25 lottery winners receives 1000 Quetzales (about $165 CAD) to invest. The loan must be repaid in monthly installments.
The women invest in various small business ventures. The most visible are those wearing their traditional village costumes vegetable and fruit stalls of Panajachel’s new Mercado in the centre of the town. Others grow vegetables on mountain plots, raise chickens, sew and embroider items for sale on Pana’s streets.
“Micro loans are having a significant impact on families and the community of Tierra women,” says Pat Pretty. “Many were both illiterate and innumerate, but that is changing. All the women must go to the bank, open an account, make deposits, and repay their loans at the bank.”
There are other side effects: increased self-confidence, greater awareness of the world beyond the mountain, more involvement in community decisions, interest in the local school and the new community centre, hope for bettering the village housing, health care and nutrition.