Advance Guatemala is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization
Approximately 51% of Guatemala's population lives in poverty as defined by the Guatemalan government. Fifteen percent are in extreme poverty. Due to a variety of factors the poverty rate (at 75% with 275 in extreme poverty) is significantly higher among the indigenous population. The average income per capita is $2680 (compared to $9980) in Mexico and $47,580 in the US.

The labor market is divided into two parts - formal and informal. Employees in the formal sector receive regular pay in cash or check. Their employers also pay certain legally-required benefits and pay into the social security system for the employee. Those self-employed in the formal sector typically have a fixed place of business (e.g. a store) with a business license. Only 29% of the economically active population work in the formal sector.

The remaining 71% work in the informal sector, often as self-employed. They may prepare food to sell at a sidewalk stand to pedestrians, make colorful weavings to sell to tourists or tourist shops, or purchase manufactured goods in bulk to resell on the street or in an open-air market. Many are farmers; others are plumbers or carpenters looking for short-term jobs.

Micro-enterprise programs are designed to help very small businesses (typically 1-3 workers) in either sector to improve their profit margins and expand their businesses. This usually involves small loans (e.g. $50) and training in the context of solidarity groups made up of several business people. These programs have proven very successful in Guatemala and many other countries in helping the poor get ahead economically. Advance Guatemala is committed to working with programs of this type for the economic advancement of the country's poor.
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