Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Social Co-operatives are booming in Guatemala

Social cooperatives are booming in Guatemala, so much so that they make up 22 percent of the gross domestic product. In co-operatives, the workers each have a share in ownership. This gives each person the opportunity build an income not only for themselves but also for others they invite to work with them.

From the Inter Press Service, writer Danilo Valladares tells us about one co-operative that makes artisan jewelry available in markets worldwide.
“Our economic situation improved a great deal because we obtained more income for our families” as a result of setting up a social enterprise, Matilde García, who makes fashion jewellery in the municipality of Pastores, 60 km west of the capital of Guatemala, told IPS.
“Now we send our children to school in the urban area and we can pay for their transport and food,” said this proud mother of three, who gave up working as a domestic employee with a monthly wage of about 40 dollars to set up a small-scale factory of necklaces, bracelets and fashion accessories employing 25 women.
Social entrepreneurship and cooperatives are offering rural families the opportunity to generate income in Guatemala, where 54 percent of the country’s 15 million people live in poverty and 13 percent in extreme poverty, especially in areas where most of the population is indigenous, according to the state National Survey of Living Conditions of 2011.
García’s group is one of 15 firms made up of 350 people, mostly women, who operate in eight of Guatemala’s 22 departments or provinces, making fashion jewellery for the social enterprise Kiej De Los Bosques, which in the Maya Cakchiquel language means “deer of the woods.”
“This is changing entire communities,” said Ligia Chinchilla, head of the Saquil group to which the Kiej De Los Bosques enterprise and the non-governmental Comunidades de la Tierra (Communities of the Earth) belong.
Kiej De Los Bosques is a private company that markets the products manufactured by the women under the Wakami label, while Comunidades de la Tierra develops their capacities and “incubates” them into formal businesses within two years.
“This country’s problems, such as poverty, are very complex, and it is everyone’s job to solve them. That’s why we created this with the goal of increasing incomes in rural areas,” said Chinchilla, one of the three founders of the social enterprise.

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