Guatemala has one of the highest poverty rates in Latin America, with more than half of its population living in poverty. This situation has reached alarming levels especially after the devastation brought by last year’s Tropical Storm Agatha in most of the country’s territory. The effects were particularly acute in the beautiful region of Antigua Guatemala (Sacatepéquez), located in the foothills of three volcanoes. The communities around this area suffered the onslaught of powerful floods that swept away homes, roads, bridges and crops, aggravating their current situation of food insecurity and malnutrition and other ills that poverty brings.
Las Gravileas: PHOTO ALBUM
Program Title: Capacity Building for Women Entrepreneurs Project, Guatemala
Location: Sacatepequez, Guatemala
Requested NGO and Partner:
Capacity Building for Women Entrepreneurs Project, Guatemala
Located in Antigua, Guatemala, Las Gravileas was founded in 1997 by the Asociación para la Cooperación Educativa (ACOE, founded in 1976) to provide intensive technical training, while incorporating personal development, to rural women living in poverty who wish to dedicate themselves to the production and commercialization of artisan products, in order to compete in both local and international markets.
Las Gravileas fosters creativity in their participants while maintaining the culture, roots and traditions of Guatemala. Through technical training, women learn how to produce high quality product and increase their production capacities in order to market their products locally and ultimately export them. Foundation SCA began partnering with Las Gravileas in 2011.
The specific program to be funded is a three-month program of intensive training for women affected by Tropical Storm Agatha, which caused massive destruction in most of the country, as a result of floods and mudslides, in 2010.
This project was conceived as a realistic and timely solution to give women the knowledge and tools they needed:
(1) to generate income as soon as possible, not only to survive the disaster but to rebuild what was lost;
(2) to focus on the integral development of the woman, not only her technical and business knowledge but her personal and cultural growth as well; and
(3) to uplift the whole community with the development and work of these new women entrepreneurs.
As mentioned earlier, parallel to the technical training and the strengthening of entrepreneurship is the focus on the integral development of the woman. Each woman receives one-on-one personal support from a staff member. Many of these women have tried to enter the market before but due to lack of technical and managerial training, were unable to persevere. The staff’s priority is to give the technical and business skills and personal formation necessary for them to face the risks and difficulties that come with being a woman entrepreneur.
The project’s vision is that these new entrepreneurs would contribute not only to their families but to the wider community’s welfare. In being able to they will feel safe and prepared to participate in decision-making in their communities and to ensure that their rights are respected. This is particularly important because women in extreme poverty, with little or no education, suffer gender-based abuses in most lines of work.
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