MayaWorks believes the economic stability of women is the first step to securing safety, education, and productivity for indigenous Guatemalan communities. The MayaWorks model consists of three programs:
The MayaWorks social venture exists to open markets in the U.S. for the sale of traditional Guatemalan handicrafts under the Fair Trade model. By selling their woven products, indigenous women have a source of income generated directly by their skills. This income allows women to provide better food for their families, send their children to school and take them to the doctor when they are sick. When women take part in improving the economic and social conditions of their communities, their self-esteem is increased and they are transformed.
MayaWorks is committed to providing ongoing training to its artisans so that they acquire the skills necessary to make new products. Groups receive at least three capacity building trainings per year.
Products are distributed through three primary channels: wholesale, retail online and through a network of U.S. women volunteers who sell on consignment in their communities.
The microcredit program exists to help women develop as entrepreneurs by managing income generating projects.
Artisans complete a loan application that includes a simple business plan. During the course of their project, artisans receive quarterly site visits by the Program Coordinator to evaluate how the project is progressing. If an artisan is experiencing difficulty with the project, she will receive technical support from staff members and will be visited more often. Artisans also attend periodic business trainings.
Artisans have used loans to plant crops, purchase nutritional supplements to sell in their community, and build a small lumber mill among many others!
MayaWorks coordinates several educational programs designed to expand opportunities for women:
- Literacy classes
Forty percent of MayaWorks artisans are illiterate and have not completed their primary education. They do not speak Spanish as their primary language. MayaWorks partners with a Guatemalan program called CONALFA to provide literacy training. At the end of the three-year program, women read at a sixth grade reading level in Spanish.
- Scholarships for daughters of artisans
The United States Agency for International Development reports that Guatemalan children on average attend only four years of schooling and only three out of ten students graduate from sixth grade. Less than 20% of all Guatemalans graduate from high school. MayaWorks provides 100 scholarships for the daughters of artisans in an effort to keep them in school for as long as possible. MayaWorks also supplies backpacks and school supplies for all children of artisans.
Academic support and enrichment services
MayaWorks supports academic centers in all six of its artisan communities. There tutors coordinate enrichment and tutoring services for over 125 students. Students receive tutoring in core subject areas, academic enrichment activities, and reading, writing and research skills support.