NOW I CAN GIVE BACK
Lilia Marina lives in the remote village of Cahabón in northern Guatemala where she must provide for her 3-year-old son and grandmother.
Her family lives on a major road, and Lilia Marina took advantage of the regular stream of traffic to open a small shop in her home where she sells snacks, drinks and toiletries. Trickle Up helped her develop basic marketing and inventory maintenance skills, and she now turns an average weekly profit of $20. During a visit, her husband proudly brought Lilia Marina’s ledger to her so that she could demonstrate her accounting system.
Lilia Marina also joined a savings group with 17 other Trickle Up participants in her village. These self-managed groups—where women learn to save and lend to one another—are a critical component of the Trickle Up program.
Lilia Marina’s group, like many others, decided to pay their success forward by putting aside savings for a community fund, which they recently used to buy medicine for the entire village. Lilia Marina told us:
“Now I own a store and can give back to my community.”
Lilia Marina took loans from her savings group and built good relationships with local suppliers in order to stock her store with an array of products her customers want. She used part of her profits to buy the land on which her home is built and, with training from Trickle Up, she planted a kitchen garden. Her son now regularly has fresh vegetables and more food to eat.
During their Trickle Up journey, women like Lilia Marina can generate a steady income and nest egg for their families for the first time in their lives.
They no longer have to skip meals to be able to feed their children. They have better access to healthcare, can send their children to school, and become empowered as decision-makers in their households and communities.
In one year, Rutilia and her three sisters saved $145 combined: Rutilia and Zoila saved $35 each, Carlota saved $36 and Carolina saved $39. With these savings, they bought güipiles (blouses), skirts, bras, meat, and vegetables. In the second year of the savings group, they’ve already saved $21 and have taken a $25 loan to cover household expenses, which they will repay from the profits of their ice cream shop. In addition, they plan to save more this year so they can adapt their microenterprise.
Rutilia’s mom said: “I already saw several changes: now they have a business, they already have profits, their money has grown. I’m happy and I like it because when I have no money, they [can help me out].” Rutilia’s sister Zoila told us: “Without the business, I could not get money because before we only had my dad’s income. Now we have more income and it’s sufficient for us: we’ve been able to buy turkeys, chains, earrings, food. There is always food and we could always eat some of the chickens we raise.” The sisters have also found their voices and eagerly participate in savings group meetings.
Rutilia, the youngest of the four sisters, is in charge of the financial side of the business. She tells us her plan for the future: “I hope I have money to be able to buy a plot of land and have a home.” As part of the program trainings on women’s empowerment and reproductive health and rights, the sisters learned many new things, including self-esteem, equality of rights, and that “we have the same rights as men.”
Over the last year, Rutilia and her sisters have learned a lot about market analysis, sustainable businesses, and women’s rights. They will continue to apply these learnings as they take even more steps towards economic and social empowerment, becoming leaders in their savings group and community.
Lilia Marina Tzi of Cahabón, northern Guatemala, Central America
Entrepreneurial, breadwinner, community-builder