Microfinance Panoramas from Guatemala

What does a family-run small business launched or expanded with the help of a microloan look like?

We offer a couple of answers…in three dimensions.

Maybe you’ve seen our photo essays from microfinance programs in Guatemala and India. Now we share a three-dimensional inside look – via 360 degree panoramic photography – at two small family-run businesses in Guatemala.

Panorama: A Weaving Business Inside the Family Home

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The image above captures the interior of a family home outside of Totonicapan in the highlands of Guatemala. The space measures somewhere between 150 and 200 square feet: a TV workspace in one corner, a bed in the other, a small table, and some knick-knacks hung on the wall. A husband and wife and their two children live there. Look closely and you’ll notice a large weaving loom – the purchase of which was aided by a Kiva microloan – taking up half the space.

When we visited Juan and his family earlier this year, he had successfully sold his first batch of hand-woven traditional cloth (or traje) at the market.

Panorama: Candle Workshop Outside Guatemala City

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Although only one person received a Kiva loan for the candle workshop above, the entire family benefits. In the shelter of bamboo and corrugated tin, several generations work together cutting string for wicks, dipping them in pots of hot paraffin, and arranging the candles to dry.

After giving us a tour of her candle workshop, the Kiva borrower — a young mother named Magda — proudly showed us the plot of land where her family home would soon be built.

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  1. Jim Faranda says

    Just found your website, enjoying it a lot. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala in the late 70’s. I sure wish digital photography had existed back then.

    Fortunately, I got to travel quite a bit, up to 2008, and I can imagine how fulfilling this adventure is for you two.

    Best wishes to you both.

    Jim Faranda
    Woodbridge, VA

  2. says

    @Jim: Thanks so much for saying hello and leaving a comment. Peace Corps in Guatemala in the 1970s – that must have been quite the experience. I can certainly see how incredible it would have been to have digital photography back then. Have you been back to Guatemala over the years since your service? I imagine so much has changed, but there’s still a core to the people and country that is the same.

    I was a PCV in Estonia from 1998-2000. Not quite the same level of hardship (unless you count the brutal, dark winters) as most Peace Corps assignments. But, it’s still incredible for me to see how the country has changed so much since I left.

    This journey and adventure is fulfilling for us and we hope our stories may insire others to engage and learn more about the world…and perhaps travel as well.

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