By identifying local market demand and providing support and training, Heifer International and partners are paving the way for women to earn living incomes.
When women have control over their income and productive assets like farmland, all family members benefit. They eat better quality food, kids go to school, and the whole family’s health improves.
The Women’s Empowerment and Entrepreneurship project works with existing community groups of indigenous women – helping to set up groups where they don’t already exist – in Sololá and the Alta and Baja Verapaz regions to boost their incomes. Almost all households in these regions are male-led, with women having identified being able to generate their own income as potentially transformative for them.
Research conducted by the women, working together with our in-country team, identified three markets with significant income-generation potential – fibers and dyes for textiles, organic vegetables and free-range poultry.
With support from our project teams, women farmers have been able to improve their processes for producing high-quality, organic vegetables. They are also setting up irrigation systems to further increase the productivity of their farms.
Through the project, the women have been able to improve their processes for raising cage-free chickens. They are selling eggs and chicken meat to restaurants in Guatemala City, Quetzaltenango and Antigua, where there is high demand for these premium products – and where they fetch better prices.
Local markets remain a priority, with access key to the long-term success of the project. There is strong demand for textiles, and the indigenous designs are particularly popular with tourists.
By the time the project ends in 2021, women farmers are projected to have saved more than $1 million in group savings through their cooperatives. Much of this money will then be reinvested into their businesses as they continue to expand.
The project expects to support the creation of 40 new businesses, each of which will contribute to closing the living income gap for 5,959 women.