How to Make a Tortilla – Guatemalan Style

Mari Cruz is an energetic, friendly, and dynamic 41-year-old woman. About fifteen years ago, she decided to open her own restaurant and took out her first loan to purchase tables and chairs. One year later, Mari Cruz started her own tortillería – a tortilla bakery. Tortillas are served with every meal in Guatemala, so it was better for her restaurant when she had freshly made tortilla from her tortillería. Mari Cruz has continued to take out Kiva loans to grow and improve her businesses. Through her loans, Mari Cruz now has running water (she used to have to carry buckets of water to her store) and has purchased a large grinder to make the corn masa (instead of crushing the corn by hand).

Mari Cruz happily walked me through the process of making tortillas.

Step One: Clean the Corn

Step Two: Pour the Corn through the Grinder to Make the Masa

Step Three: Take the Masa and Make Small Balls

Step Four: Clap the Ball to Make a Flat Round Shape

Step Five: Cook Masa on the Stove

With her earnings, Mari Cruz has been able to provide for her family, pay for her children’s education, and build a sturdier house with additional rooms for her family. Due to Mari Cruz’s success and entrepreneurial spirit, in 2006 she won second place in Citibank’s small business contest in Guatemala for those who have taken out micro-loans.

Mari Cruz has been a fighter for her family. She adopted her four siblings after her mother died sixteen years ago. Her husband left for the United States, leaving Mari Cruz to care for her siblings and four children on her own. To earn money, she had a business selling motorcycles, but with bad luck, was robbed of all her inventory. That’s when Mari Cruz decided to start fresh and to open her own restaurant.

Throughout, Mari Cruz has remained positive. She hopes to continue to grow her businesses and to focus on the good customer service for her clients. Mari Cruz says a big “Thank you” to all Kiva investors for their support and requests that all investors continue to help people so that borrowers can move forward.

About the author

Kelly Diggins

Kelly was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. She received a BA in Global Economics and Latin American Studies from UC Santa Cruz, which included studying abroad at Complutense University of Madrid, Spain for one year, and a summer in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Kelly also received a Trans-Global Executive MBA from Saint Mary’s College of California. During the MBA program, Kelly became interested in corporate social responsibility, including the social and environmental benefits and impacts of an organization. Additionally, Kelly co-authored a business plan to promote her client’s sustainability principles across Zanzibar, East Africa in a way that resulted in certain social, cultural, and financial benefits to local communities at the base of the economic pyramid. Kelly has extensive experience in Latin America as an Amigos de las Americas volunteer working on community service projects and focusing on sustainable development while living in Honduras, Paraguay, and The Dominican Republic. Kelly is excited for this opportunity to serve as a Kiva Fellow and participate in collaborative economic development.