MayaWorks

MayaWorks' mission is to empower low-income indigenous women to end their cycle of poverty and improve their lives. MayaWorks trains artisans to transform their traditional weaving skills into a means of financial support for their families. Volunteers in the U.S. sell artisan products creating a market for the traditional arts of Maya women. This collaboration creates an opportunity for Maya women to achieve economic security and for North American women to participate in economic justice.
Nov 7, 2012

Opportunities for Economically Marginalized Women

Artisans of San Marcos
Artisans of San Marcos

MayaWorks works with over 125 low income indigenous women in the central highlands of Guatemala. 70% are from extremely poor and remote hamlets of the Chimaltenango and Sololá areas.

Artisans tend to marry very young and, on average, have six children.  Many are single mothers working to support large families on their own.  Most have not completed their primary education.   40% are illiterate.

Our artisan partners are not organized by cooperatives but rather by local weaving groups. They share leadership and, together, decide who will be a part of their group and what products they will make.  MayaWorks has worked with the same 8 weaving groups for over 16 years.

MayaWorks’ Guatemala operation is completely managed by indigenous women since its inception.  These administrators understand the complexities of doing business in Guatemala, speak the artisans’ native language and live in the same communities as the artisans.  More importantly, they are driven by their desire to see indigenous women progress in a country where they are often regarded as less than second class citizens.

MayaWorks believes community development happens through the economic development of women who otherwise have limited ways to contribute to the development and economic stability of their families.  Giving women an opportunity to earn an income from their skills gives them self-confidence and hope for themselves, their children, their family and their village.

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Oct 2, 2012

Loans Paid Off and New Loans Paid Out

Weaver from Santiago, Atitlan
Weaver from Santiago, Atitlan

MayaWorks is very proud of its loan recipients who make every effort to pay their microcredit loans on time!

This past month seven loan recipients finished paying off their income generating projects.  Most of these loans were used to plant crops which yielded a very nice profit this year.  Also, last month, MayaWorks awarded six new loans totaling just over $3,000.  These loans will be used mainly for textile projects.  Women will purchase thread and other equipment to make huipiles for sale to women in their communities.  Huipiles are the beautifully woven shirts that indiginous women wear everyday.

Microcredit is one of the most effective tools to combat poverty in developing countries.  It is especially effective in empowering women who often lack the employment history required by traditional lenders.  Microcredit programs require much oversite, however.  It is important to communicate regularly with loan recipients as well as provide ongoing training and development to ensure successful returns on investment.

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Aug 15, 2012

Vicenta of Xetonox

Vicenta is always happy when she is weaving.
Vicenta is always happy when she is weaving.

Vicenta Jutzutz Tetzaguic is 57 years old.  She was born in the village of Panabajal, Xetonox, deep in the valley of Tecpán, Guatemala. Vicenta is a warm and loving woman.  She’s always smiling and has beautiful brown eyes that sparkle.  You would never know Vicenta’s life hasn’t been easy.  

Viventa's parents were poor farmers who could not afford to send her to school past the third grade.  Vicenta learned to read and write a little.  She is the mother of eight children, three boys and five girls, and the “abuelita” of many!  Vicenta and her husband, Jorge, are farmers at heart.  They grow potatoes, green beans and a variety of berries.  With MayaWorks microcredit loans, they have purchased plots of land and seed to expand their farming income.  Last year, the cultivation of potato crops went very well.  With the earnings, the family was able to buy a used car that they use to transport their supplies and tools to the field and their produce to the Tecpán market.

Fifteen years ago, her daughter Marcela met MayaWorks founder, Patricia Krause.  Pat ordered products from Marcela and Vicenta and sold them to her friends in Connecticut.  Vicenta became a regular weaver with MayaWorks.  Soon after, she formed the Xetonox weaving group with other women from the village. 

The opportunity to weave  for MayaWorks helped Vicenta tremendously. She no longer had to leave her children alone to go work in the fields.  Since the time she met Pat,  weaving products has been Vicenta’s main source of revenue.  Her weaving income covers the family’s primary necessities and allows her children to continue studying. Vicenta says the trainings MayaWorks provides artisans have helped her improve her skills and the quality of her products.  Now, she can operate a treadle foot loom, weave ikat fabric and sew, three skills she did not have before becoming a MayaWorks artisan. 

Vicenta is satisfied with her achievements and is grateful for the benefits she has received from MayaWorks.  They have helped not only her, but also her family, her weaving group and her community. 

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