Build Women’s Fair Trade Businesses, Hidalgo

by Nepi Behna

Your generous donations contribute greatly to Nepi Behña’s fair-trade cooperative!

Nepi Behña works with 400 rural women in Hidalgo, Mexico to produce fair-trade cloth and sponges made out of agave, as well as hand-made soaps and natural dyes.

Nepi Behña educates women about their rights and helps them earn their own income. Through skills development, the women who participate in Nepi Behña have learned how to manage business plans and marketing of their brand Corazón Verde, working together as a cooperative to produce fair trade goods to sell overseas and locally and applying different production techniques for cloth, cosmetics, and soaps.

The income from selling fair-trade goods has increased women’s independent income. The women who are earning from the cooperative are empowered to become community leaders and educators. Organizing women’s groups and promoting leadership skills, they are able to have a voice in community affairs and earn the respect of men in the community.

Thank you for donating to this important cause and supporting women’s fair-trade businesses in Mexico.

Starting October 12, GlobalGiving will be matching donations for this project! Donate and maximize your impact!

Thanks in large part to your support, Ñepi Behña has continued to empower women in Hidalgo, Mexico by providing them with small business management workshops, fair trade cooperative support, and leadership training.

 Conchita is a member and education leader of one of the cooperatives.  Having moved to Hidalgo when she was very young, Conchita’s husband left her and their infant son for many years to go work in the north. She found herself in a town where she did not know the native dialect (ñahñu), was away from her family, and had little money to support her family.  By joining the cooperative, Conchita say has been empowered and has found her voice.

“Being a leader in the community is not easy and at first it is a difficult talk.  But we can all learn this skill and learn not to be afraid.”

In addition to being the head of community education, Conchita is an artisan and in charge of marketing Corazon Verde (Green Heart), the cooperative’s fair trade brand of bath and beauty products. Through this experience, Conchita has created a livelihood for herself and her family.  She says she looks forward to continuing her work with Corazon Verde and helping more women in the community learn gain new skills to become independent women, supporting themselves and their families.

 By donating to Ñepi Behña you are ensuring more women like Conchita can benefit from this program.

 Thank you for your support.

One project IDEX supports through our partner Ñepi Behña is a fair trade artisan’s cooperative in Hidalgo, Mexico. One of their main activities is production and sales of agave-fiber body sponges to the Body Shop. Agave fiber is a local, renewable resource to which the women readily have access and provides real economic opportunities in an area with few other options.

Anastasia is one such member of the cooperative. When she joined, she was unsure what was in store, but as she participated in trainings on women’s rights and developed the skills to become an artisan, she says her life gradually changed. She discovered a knack for numbers and found herself leading cooperative meetings.

Anastasia was soon elected cashier for a savings and microfinance program called Abejitas (“Little Bees”) that the cooperative started.

Started in 2002, the savings program has expanded to six rural communities and boasts 400 women members. Since there are no formal banks in the area, the women opened up the savings program so anyone in the community could start saving or access a loan.

“I’ve learned how to write down and organize the savings, to track people’s savings, to manage accounts, and to budget,” says Anastasia.

Like the other woman in the group, Anastasia makes regular contributions to the fund. As the savings grow, women can withdraw money from the account for expenses, like tools to boost their income, school fees for their children, and medicine to treat family illnesses.

Through Ñepi Behña, the women have gained new skills – marketing, computer, financial planning – so the cooperative can take itself to the next level. And the cooperative now makes a range of beauty products and natural soaps, all made from native, traditional plants.

By donating to Ñepi Behña you are ensuring more women can benefit from this program.

Thank you for your support.

On Tuesday, March 16, all donations up to $1,000 per donor, per project will be matched. Donate on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, and maximize your gift. With your support, Nepi Benha has started to provide technical assistance to the 250-member indigenous cooperative that has been selling agave plant fibers to a well-known beauty supply company. Funds were used to strengthen the Corazón Verde (Green Heart) brand –the fair trade brand launched by the cooperative— to expand their ability to sell natural bath and beauty products in urban Mexico. The group was able to start a website that you can view by clicking here: The women involved with the cooperative have been participating in skill-building workshops to create diversified beauty products in their Corazón Verde brand portfolio of products. Recent workshops centered on creating natural dyes with flower, fruit, and tree bark and other natural dye strategies like using cochineal (a type of parasite that lives on agave leaves) to produce natural red dye.


Based in the outskirts of Mexico City, Ñepi Behña works with over 650 indigenous women. The women build sustainable livelihoods through savings and credit groups, sustainable energy technologies and fair trade artisanship.

Recent achievements include installation of rainwater capturing tanks and wood-saving stoves, and a 400-member savings and credit association.

A larger project is to provide support to 250 members of a cooperative selling agave plant fiber to a well-known beauty supply company. The members receive technical assistance in quality control, financial planning, and computer skills.

This cooperative is currently launching a fair trade brand called Corazón Verde (“Green Heart”) to sell natural bath and beauty products in urban Mexico. They are currently building up the brand's visibility by establishing business contacts in Mexico.

This project has amazing potential for growth- but they need your support in helping them to continue to expand their impressive programs for indigenous women.


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Organization Information

Nepi Behna

Location: Mexico, DF - Mexico
Project Leader:
Gillian Wilson
IDEX Latin America Program Director
San Francisco, CA United States

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