Yabal Guatemala is a Fair Trade organization, focused on sustainable fashion, that supports indigenous women’s weaving cooperatives in Guatemala, providing them with the opportunity to sell their hand-woven products through local and international markets.
Our mission is to promote the empowerment of indigenous women and their families in rural communities, in Guatemala, with a focus on their economic self-sufficiency. We believe that women are the center of the family and of the household and therefore, have the greatest influence on the success of their children. This makes them the future generation of the community, so we focus on women's economic independence, education, economic security, and the promotion of entrepreneurship as the path to sustainability and poverty reduction in rural indigenous communities.
Yabal Guatemala provides the tools and support necessary for indigenous communities in the highlands of Guatemala to achieve self-sustainability in order to overcome poverty and provide a better future for their children and their community.
We offer accessories made of textiles by our weaving women's cooperative.
We carry out trainings with our women's artisan cooperatives, connecting female artisans with local and international buyers and markets for their products.
We provide programs and trainings on food security including cultivation of fruit trees, vegetables, oyster mushrooms; school scholarship program for students; new mothers program to offer pre and post partem support for pregnant women participating in social textile enterprise; environmental program that includes training in recycling and reforestation projects in Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan; an alternative finance program that includes women's savings groups and a micro-credit fund managed by the community.
We seek economic self-sustainability and the empowerment of women in our partner communities. We started in 2005 after Hurricane Stan destroyed many indigenous communities in the highlands. We responded to the crisis in two specific communities then moved to the Alaska area in Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan. They came to these lands donated by the government without any resources or a way to earn a living. These two communities of Pacutama and Chuicutama do not have much land to grow food or access or skills to get employment so they face many challenges to ensure their food security. Therefore, our focus is to provide economic opportunities so that they can improve their standard of living and get out of poverty in the long run. Most of our programs focus specifically on women because they have even fewer economic opportunities than men but carry a great burden in ensuring the nutrition of their children. Also, many men migrate to find work in the US leaving behind many women and children in the communities so there is a need to give women opportunities and skills to generate their own income.
We have provided 60 women artisans constant monthly jobs for the last 10 years. This means that every woman in our textile program can depend on receiving at least one knitting job every month and sometimes every 2 weeks. With the work they receive from the social enterprise of our Association, each woman earns Q200-800 per month, depending on the type of textile she weaves. 100% of women use this money to buy food for their families and also to pay for their children's studies.
In this area, most men only earn up to Q800 a month and many times, their jobs are temporary and they have no fixed income. The contributions that women have made to their communities and families by working with Yabal have greatly improved their standard of living and access to food for their families.
Education is also a great achievement for these families to provide for their children, so the monthly money they can earn with Yabal is important for them to provide an education to the next generation of communities. Also, the changes in self-esteem and empowerment of women in the communities where we work is impressive.
The women who participate in our programs, including the weaving cooperative, share with us that their husbands are already helping them with household chores when they have an order from Yabal. This change in gender roles is something very shocking that rarely happened before in these communities. Also, in 2019 two women from the Yabal textile cooperative managed to join the COCODE (community leadership board) of their community - the first time in their history that they have allowed women to be part of the community leadership. The women say they felt able to demand their inclusion because of the trust they have gained from their work at the textile cooperative and from other Yabal trainings and programs. There are many challenges in the communities where we work and for this reason, sometimes the changes seem small, but really these two examples show a big change in the background.
We have the data of the payments that we have made to each woman each year and so we can see how much income we are generating. Apart from this data, we use interviews and conversations with individual women to understand the social and economic impact on their lives.
The development of trust between our organization and our partner communities is something very key in the way we work. In order to receive correct information and data from the communities, it works much better to receive information through informal conversations than through forms or formal inquiries.
Size and/or structure / Mission, vision and/or values
We started as an NGO focused on the infrastructure and physical development of the Pacutama and Chuicutama communities after their relocation to Alaska.
After securing the construction of houses, water systems, and other infrastructure projects, we realized that economic sustainability was the greatest challenge to their well-being and ability to succeed. So, in 2010 we formed a social enterprise alongside our organization to be able to sell and promote women's textile jobs. From there, we decided that our greatest contribution as an organization is a focus on economic sustainability, the generation of fair jobs, and programs to strengthen skills, generate greater access to opportunities, and entrepreneurship in the communities.
Increase or at least maintain the amount of work that we can provide for our artisans in the social enterprise.
Quality and Impact
We want to find funds to help us hire other personnel to run a larger program focused on food safety for next year, following the food crisis generated by the coronavirus quarantine. With the new food security program, we want to ensure a higher quality of nutrition for the communities in Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, generate another source of local income for women in the Pacutama community, and train more women in matters of mate, and basic administration to develop their confidence to start more local businesses.
We want to reach a point of equilibrium in our social enterprise so that, instead of selling textiles, Yabal can cover all its expenses as an organization including all its social programs, so that the sustainability of the work can be ensured in the future. We also want to help create a diversity of sources of income for families in Pacutama and Chuicutama so that if something happens with Yabal's social enterprise, families would have another source of income.
Increase the programs and training that we can offer to our partner communities as not only providing scholarships for diversified but also for the university and also having the ability to hire professionals when necessary to help direct more programs and special trainings to improve the quality of programs.
We want to get to a point where we don't need to exist! Because our social communities have the tools and capabilities to ensure their own food security, health, education, and well-being.