Women-owned businesses in Guatemala face a multitude of challenges that often inhibit long-term success, if you are an indigenous women these challenges are greatly amplified. Maya Traditions Foundation, based in Panajachel, Sololá, Guatemala, was founded by Jane Stiller Mintz in 1996 to address these issues. It was one of the first organizations to follow a Fair Trade model and was an early proponent and member of the Fair Trade Federation (FTF). Maya Traditions leverages traditional Maya heritage and art, connecting female artisans with national and international markets committed to the Fair Trade Principles. Recognized as one of the early leaders in the Fair Trade model, Maya Traditions now works with over 120 women artisans from eight indigenous Maya cooperatives throughout the highlands surrounding Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Maya Tradition’s mission is to improve the quality of life for Maya women artisans and their families by increasing their access to global markets, improving access to education and contributing to the preservation of Maya culture and practices.
Maya Traditions Foundation is composed of the following programs:
Through the Artisan Development Program the artisans’ capacity building opportunities has increased by a) holding trainings and workshops on communication, financial and management skills and b) maintaining partnership with eight cooperatives and nineteen new retailers that also work with community tourism programs to help increase artisans’ sales.
Since 1997, MTF’s Youth Education Program partnered with Maya Educational Foundation to offer over 2300 financial scholarships, personal and professional development workshops, annual community service initiatives, and leadership trainings to the artisans’ children. In addition, MTF works with the organization Unlocking Silent Histories to offer young people a way to share their stories in their own language by creating short documentaries.
The Community Health Program was launched in 1997. MTF’s efforts thus far have included: workshops in schools about medicinal plants, permaculture, organic composting and Maya cosmovision, the establishment of community gardens, distribution of low-cost medicinal plants and plant-based products, participation in national conferences and educational tours of our medicinal plant garden. Through the partnership with the Atitland Ajq’omanela’ Association, a group of Maya healers from the Lake Atitlan region, three day clinics have been put to work.
Board members include: Murray Mintz, Brenda Rosenbaum, Armando Alfonzo, Marta Lynd-Altan, and Dana Geffner. Many members have supported Maya Taditions since the start and have been essential for the organization’s foundation with their expertise in working in development with indigenous communities for over thirty years and with the Fair Trade Movement for over a decade. Staff members include Erin Kokdill (Executive Director), Floridalma Pérez Sicay (Production Manager), Marisol Morales Calel (Programs Coordinator), Jeaneth Rabbé (Finance and Administration Manager), Isabel Chalcú (Artisan Development Program Coordinator), Edgar Tuy Vicente (Organic Medicinal Plant Gardener), Oseas Chiquirin Aju (Groundskeeper, Office, and Garden Assistant), Averie Floyd (Product Development and Sales Manager), and Laura Gehring (Community Tourism Coordinator). All its local and international experience together helps make the project possible.
Monitoring and Evaluation for MTF
Monitoring and evaluation enhances the effectiveness of intervention programs by establishing clear links between past, present and future interventions and results. Monitoring and evaluation can help an organization to extract, from past and ongoing activities, relevant information that can subsequently be used as the basis for programmatic fine-tuning, reorientation and planning. Without monitoring and evaluation, it would be impossible to judge if work was going in the right direction, whether progress and success could be claimed, and how future efforts might be improved. Monitoring and evaluation help improve performance and achieve results. More precisely, the overall purpose of monitoring and evaluation is the measurement and assessment of performance in order to more effectively manage the outcomes and outputs known as development results. Performance is defined as progress towards and achievement of results.
We have created an M&E package for MTF so they can easily define the goals of the foundation and clearly track their results. Check out our materials below:
Fundación Tradiciones Mayas
Casa del Arbol