Women and Youth Building Local Economies

We have seen that the economic empowerment of women and youth is critical to achieving food sovereignty in households and communities, and this is one of the central pillars of CAN’s work. CAN currently supports three main initiatives, with more in development:

  • Alternative Rural Enterprise Development in Quintana Roo, México: Market Chain Development for Maya Women
  • Alternative Rural Enterprise Development in Veracruz, México: Organic Tianguis
  • Alternative Rural Enterprise Development in San Ramón, Nicaragua: Women’s Collective Business Projects Expansion

RESEARCH FINDINGS

We are conducting a preliminary study of the impacts of these initiatives in late 2014 and early 2015. Research results will be ready to share in mid-2015.

FUTURE DIRECTIONS

The expansion of the revolving fund in 2014-15 will increase access to no-interest, long term loans available to youth and women’s groups for collective rural enterprises that will increase household income and access to basic buy avodart no prescription needs. Three rural business initiatives are still in need of funds to fulfill their business plans: a women’s group cornbread business in Ramon Garcia Cooperative in San Ramón, Nicaragua; a youth group in Veracruz with a business plan to produce and sell fruit marmalades; and a collective women’s initiative in Quintana Roo, México to produce value added products from garden produce to sell.

Three Main Initiatives

After the business plan development workshop in Tabasco, Quintana Roo, in July 2013, the team of UIMQRoo professors and students set out to perform a detailed market study of all possible market channels for the produce being produced by the UIAM women’s group in Tabasco. After exploring over 15 different weekly and monthly organic and alternative markets, and stationary stores in the Riviera Maya, as well as local markets in Jose Maria Morelos (JMM), the women and the team decided to start experimenting with different options that would give the women experience participating and selling in public markets. Representatives of the UIAM group and the UIMQRoo team participated in two different outdoor markets in the Riviera Maya in January-March 2014, and everyone agreed that these were important experiences, but with strong challenges like distance and transportation costs that would severely limit the women’s ability to participate regularly and in a sustainable fashion in the long run without the financial support of the project. At the same time, in late 2013, the UIMQRoo team launched its first outdoor farmers market in JMM in December, which was a success not only for the fifteen women producers of Tabasco, but also the community, who greatly enjoyed being connected through the market to isolated rural communities like Tabasco. Since December, the UIMQRoo team has teamed up with the JMM municipal offices and other departments at UIMQRoo to put on a monthly farmers market, which has become an event that the entire community looks forward to, and which also is making great contributions to the women’s household income each month, in addition to the second market channel the women are engaging in, which is selling their produce locally in Tabasco.
Since the business planning workshop in Quintana Roo, México in July 2013, in which Veracruz youth leaders developed a business plan to market patio eggs produced by women beneficiaries in the project in Veracruz, plans have taken a different direction there due to some unforeseen difficulties associated specifically with egg marketing. First, the women are dispersed among four different communities and the logistics of bringing together their small and disperse production of eggs once or twice per week would be cost-prohibitive and difficult. Second, to sell the eggs retail or even in outdoor farmers markets would require a health certification that would place a great financial burden on the women. Instead of marketing eggs, the project has refocused egg production on household consumption or small-scale sale within the rural communities, rather than coordinating a larger effort to sell them collectively. At the same time, the project collaborated with the University of Chapingo in Huatusco to put on a farmers market at the university in late 2013. The experience was educational for everyone, and led to the decision to not coordinate a separate farmers market as part of the project, but rather to shift strategy to one where women gardeners in the project could participate in existing monthly farmers markets in Coscomatepec, a nearby city. Between 10 and 15 women have been participating in each monthly market in 2014.
The monthly farmers markets in San Ramón, Nicaragua, have continued during the growing season over the last year (every month except December, January, and February due to the coffee harvest), offering a critical outlet to the 45 women gardeners in the project to sell their excess garden produce and prepared food. This market channel is well established and successful, and is a monthly event that the entire community of San Ramon participates in. In 2014, we collaborated with the UCA San Ramon to establish a second market channel: the women’s group in the Danilo Gonzalez Cooperative (one of the eight cooperatives working with the food security project in San Ramon) had been working for two years developing a business plan for a café in San Ramon where they would sell coffee grown and roasted by another women’s group, as well as prepared food made from locally grown produce and dairy products. In January 2014, CAN agreed to extend a no-interest loan of $5000 to the group over three years, from revolving funds available through the FSS project funded by Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., to the Danilo Gonzalez women’s group to complete the last necessary investments in the café (a coffee machine and furniture) so that it could open by October 2014, with the condition that the café would source its produce from the home gardens in the FSS project, creating a second stable market channel for the 45 women gardeners.

Parallel to this effort, the women’s group in the Denis Gutierrez Cooperative (another cooperative participating in the FSS project, and where CAN buys its AgroEco® Coffee) has undertaken a collective rural enterprise initiative using the 10 cent premium for the Unpaid Work of Women that is part of the AgroEco® Coffee price. Their collective initiative aims to address a critical and immediate problem of needing to renovate coffee fields lost to la roya, by producing fertilizer that they can sell to themselves and recoup the costs, in order to be able to repeat the process over the 2-3 years that the seedlings are growing before they reach their first harvest. This economic initiative thus fulfills two objectives of supporting coffee renovation in the women’s fields, as well as empowering them economically.

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Farmers Market

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The women-run cafe opened in October 2014.

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Farmers Market

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