Micro-Business Creation in Rural Guatemala
A significant focus of the Seeds for a Future Program is increasing income opportunities.
Our training and mentoring program encourages women, men, and entire families in rural Guatemala to create micro-businesses.
The increase in income from their micro-businesses allows for more prosperous lives in a region where economic advancement is difficult; it also allows people to stay in their home surroundings and not migrate to cities or other countries to support their families.
Below are a few examples of how the Program participants are incorporating micro-businesses and creating the opportunity to live better and with greater self-reliance.
Selling Hand-crafted Cacao Beverages
From the beginning of our work in Chocolá, Doña Dominga has been a dedicated participant.
The Integrated Backyard Farm Program is designed as a 12-month period of coaching and mentoring, but Doña Dominga is special – an emeritus micro-business participant.
She is an inspiration to new families in many ways, including letting Seeds use her farm as a Demonstration Center for Field Days, and sharing new plant propagation methods she developed from her own experience and knowledge.
Encouraged by our extensionists, she diversified her coffee grove to include cacao. She is now well-known for the hand-made tablets of cacao, sugar and cinnamon she sells for making a tasty and popular hot chocolate beverage.
As her cacao trees mature and produce more cacao beans, Seeds for a Future extensionists helped Doña Dominga construct a low-cost, low-tech drying facility to process the growing supply of raw material.
The drying facility has allowed her to expand her micro-business while renting the drying station to other cacao growers – an additional source of revenue for our senior Star.
Oyster Mushrooms – Delicious and Nutritious
With careful preparation, Oyster mushrooms are pretty easy to grow and are quite prolific.
One of their advantages is that they don't take up garden space. They're grown in bags, away from sunlight and rain. Many mushroom entrepreneurs hang the bags indoors, even under a table, if space is an issue.
Many women participants have started successful micro-businesses by growing mushrooms to sell to their neighbors. There is a ready market, as mushrooms are highly favored for many popular dishes and may be expensive or unavailable in local markets.
After introducing mushroom-growing techniques in the Agricultural Extension Program we completed in Chajul, Nebaj, we were pleased to learn that a group of women rented a house to grow mushrooms for sale. The local extensionists we trained for Chajul report the group is doing well and hoping to extend their micro-business sales to nearby village markets.
Increasing the Variety of Plant Foods to Sell in Local Markets
In 2021 we conducted an Agricultural Extension Program in El Pilar, Democracia. Here families have larger plots of land than in many other areas, and participants were eager to learn about marketable crops.
From April through August, various food plants not previously grown in the area were tested for success. Cucumber, chile jalapeño, bell peppers, tomatoes, mustard greens, chard, and other desirable and nutritious plants proved well-suited.
Women from the 20 participating families formed the Community Association of El Pilar as a micro-business to raise and market the new crops and share the results.
Starting in September, commercial plantings of the new crops began. To date, a number of crops have already been marketed, including:
Blackberry, 450 bunches, sold for Q.1.00 each.
Nearly 600 bunches of chipilín, sold for Q.1.00 each.
Jalapeño pepper, 550 units, sold at Q.0.50 each.
Chile pepper, 235 units, sold at Q.1.00 each.
Cucumber, 430 units, sold at Q.1.00 each.
Part of the nightshade and quilete harvest was donated to GIRASOL for the meals they provide to the community each Thursday.
The Association decided to use its initial harvest Income to buy additional farming instruments, such as hoes, rakes, cord to support plants and seeds. A portion purchased fence for an area GIRASOL will use as a demonstration garden while providing food for community members. The balance was distributed among Association families.
Information and coaching in El Pilar also focused on fruit trees as an income source in addition to providing family nutrition. Several families are advancing their pig-raising activities to the micro-business level. Check out the video, “Agriculture Extension Program in El Pilar” on our Video Page.
Nutritious Greens For Sale in Chocolá Neighborhoods
In 2021, some new participants in the Chocola area expressed interest in raising enough food plants to sell them in a micro-business capacity.
Often the participants already had a ready-made client base via a small informal store as part of their house.
Seeds extensionists helped these families plan the layout of their land for maximum production, using the high-producing mandala format where possible. Our micro-business coaching included improvements in the overall operation of their in-home store.
These situations are ideal for neighborhood micro-entrepreneurs. They can grow many sought-after plants and offer them without the extra time and cost of a taxi to the market.
The plants sold will always be fresher than what is in the market, as each bundle is harvested just when the customer is ready to buy.
Locally popular and nutritious plants flourish for these entrepreneurs, including mustard greens, chipilin, hierba mora, and quilete.
Seeds for Future isn't only about helping families meet their health and nutrition needs, but also about increasing incomes and expanding opportunities -- including micro-businesses. It’s about helping families achieve what once seemed unattainable.
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