Catarina, Rosalia, and Gerbert, who all live in communities around Lake Atitlán, have more in common than just the place they call home. Each of these individuals participates in one of Pueblo a Pueblo’s Sustainable Livelihood Projects – Beekeeping, Women Entrepreneurs, and Youth Leadership. These projects are vital sources of community building, entrepreneurial training, and secondary income generation for a variety of community members.
Catarina Ajpuam Petzey, one of the beekeepers in San Pablo La Laguna, reflects on her time as a part of Pueblo a Pueblo’s Beekeeping Project. “Before starting with the beekeeping project, I wanted a change in my life, to be able to provide a more stable life for my children, but unfortunately I didn’t have the support to be able to achieve that. I am so grateful that today I am a part of the beekeeping project, because I see that it has given me a big push toward better things.”
She, like each of the other beekeepers in the San Pablo collective, strives to build a better future for her family. This “push toward better things” refers not only to her expanded knowledge of the local environment and the beekeeping process, but also to the friendships cultivated with other beekeepers, and the economic support that being a Pueblo a Pueblo beneficiary provides.
In a place like Santiago Atitlán, where a majority of community members rely on coffee farming and handicraft sales to survive, one of Pueblo a Pueblo’s primary goals is economic diversification. With only one annual coffee harvest, and the varied success of handicraft sales, many community members struggle to provide for their families year-round.
Amidst such an economically challenging year as 2020, Pueblo a Pueblo’s efforts to empower community members with alternative sources of income have been especially important.
“My name is Rosalia, and before joining the Women Entrepreneurs Project, I worked making beaded jewelry and looking for ways to sell it. But one of the most significant changes that Pueblo a Pueblo has had on me is the importance of continuing to learn. This project has taught me new ways to work, which is very important because it has offered me another way to generate income for my family.”
Rosalia participates in Pueblo a Pueblo’s newest Sustainable Livelihood Project, Women Entrepreneurs, and is one of ten women that have been working in a collective entitled Ixaq Ch’ajch’oj (Healthy Women), to sew reusable menstrual hygiene products. The women of Ixaq Ch’ajch’oj are also partnering with the organization Days for Girls, a global nonprofit dedicated to increasing access to menstrual care and education.
For women like Rosalia, this project has been an important learning experience; women learn not only how to sew on a machine, but also how to market and sell products, and how to manage business finances. Rosalia shared that during Covid-19, she has been especially grateful for the skills learned in this project.
“The current situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has affected me economically because my family’s income has not been sufficient. But thanks to Pueblo a Pueblo, I learned how to sew masks and I have been able to sell them; it was a way to adapt to the situation.”
With the sewing skills learned in the Women Entrepreneurs Project, Rosalia and other women have been able to continue supplementing their families’ income throughout the pandemic. Their adaptability and entrepreneurial spirit amidst such challenging times has been a testament to the importance of empowering community members with the knowledge and tools to pursue innovative projects.
Alongside beekeeping and women entrepreneurship is Pueblo a Pueblo’s final Sustainable Livelihoods Project, Youth Leadership. Like the previous two projects, this one is dedicated to improving the lives and economic security of rural communities, but this time through the empowerment of local youth. Gerbert, a youth leader from San Martín, shares many of the same sentiments as Catarina and Rosalia, despite the differences in their entrepreneurial projects.
“Something new that [Youth Leadership] has taught me is how to manage a project and keep track of all of the details. The great thing is that every day in the project we are learning new things, new techniques about how to work and manage projects and in this year the most important thing I learned was how to organize a group and make sure that everyone participates in the project.”
Like both Catarina and Rosalia, Gerbert emphasizes the importance of learning new skills as a Pueblo a Pueblo entrepreneur. The Youth Leaders in San Martín spent 2019 establishing and managing an organic school garden, learning important leadership and project management skills, and holding workshops with school children. Their own entrepreneurial project, which revolves around raising chickens and selling eggs, was put on hold due to the pandemic. However, Gerbert and his fellow youth leaders have been staying connected digitally, and hope to resume their project in March 2021 if safety permits!
Gerbert, Rosalia, and Catarina are just three of the many Sustainable Livelihoods beneficiaries participating in Pueblo a Pueblo’s projects, but their stories capture the essence of this important work. Pueblo a Pueblo seeks to instill a passion for learning, community, and entrepreneurship in each of its project participants, so that long after community members graduate from these projects, they will retain the skills they need to thrive as independent entrepreneurs.
As we look toward the coming year with hope, Pueblo a Pueblo is proud to support secondary income generating projects like these. We hope to make 2021 a year of entrepreneurial growth so that more community members have a chance to rebuild economically after such a challenging year. We are so grateful to Foundation Beyond Belief for believing in Pueblo a Pueblo’s vision of promoting sustainable change through entrepreneurship. The Compassionate Impact Grant has been invaluable to the empowerment of rural Guatemalan entrepreneurs!
Pueblo a Pueblo is a current recipient of FBB’s Humanist Grants program, and a past recipient of our game-changing Compassionate Impact Grant. Through these grants, we help fund culturally-appropriate solutions to problems facing local communities across the globe. We can’t do it without you. Click here to chip in to the grants program today.