Modifying craft materials creates market for struggling villagers
In the village of Patanatic, Guatemala, there is little means to survive beyond agriculture, hunting and fishing, and the people there struggle to afford life’s necessities. While most are unable to see past the poverty and despair that exist in this region, the Enactus team at Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Altiplano saw they could improve village life by utilizing something that is not normally seen as an asset—trash.
Because there are no waste collection services in Patanatic, trash is an ongoing problem for the village. And because there is little opportunity for income, many of the village women had resorted to selling crafts as a means to generate money for their families. By tapping into these talents and modifying the materials to include waste items such as candy wrappers, chip wrappers and plastic bottle labels, these items become purses, bracelets and bags. With one effort, the environment is improved, but more importantly, what was seen as just another problem for the village is transformed to provide income for needed food, medicine and books.
As a result of the “Ecopreneurship Project,” the vendors of these recycled crafts have found success selling to the local tourist market and beyond. The project has helped 45 people triple their incomes and overall financial literacy has improved in the village. In addition, the trash problem in the area has been significantly reduced. For this group, the help of UVG-Altiplano Enactus has meant the difference between barely getting by with subsistence farming and a less stressful, improved quality of life.