In 1998, Alba Coyote Xicay was awarded a two-year CASS scholarship to study Small Business Management at the University of Wisconsin-Marinette in Wisconsin. Alba grew up in Patzun in the Chimaltenango department, a semi-rural community of 25,000 inhabitants. Her Kakchiquel parents are farmers and traders. As an adolescent, Alba made crafts and sold them in her community. Her CASS scholarship to study small business strengthened her business and entrepreneurial skills.
When she returned from her CASS scholarship in 2000, approximately 27% of Guatemalans lived in extreme poverty, particularly in rural areas. Rural unemployment was high particularly among women. To address these needs, Alba did pro-bono community work with the local Patzun Community Association and provided technical assistance to women entrepreneurs in their homes. She obtained her first job with the organization, Fundación Manos de Hoy, Arte de Ayer (Foundation for Today’s Hands and Yesterday’s Arts), managing a project in Guatemala’s Quiche region to train artisans and market their handicrafts.
Alba is currently the Coordinator of the Enterprise Development Center at the Jesuit Landivar University in Antigua, Guatemala. Financed by the Spanish Development and Cooperation Agency, this center promotes women’s entrepreneurship. Through the Enterprise Development Center, Alba provides managerial and technical assistance to more than 3,000 microentrepreneurs and small business owners from the departments of Sacatepéquez and Chimaltenango. Many of the people Alba assists have never received any type of training, even though technical assistance in marketing and management is critical for the continued growth of small businesses, the most dynamic sector of Guatemala’s economy.
In 2005, Alba completed her bachelor’s degree at Landivar University and is writing her thesis to complete a master’s degree in Development Studies. Alba also teaches “Social Entrepreneurship Management” at Landivar University’s School of Social Work.