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Association of Chajul Women Weavers

Artisan Organization: Association of Chajul Women Weavers

Country: Central America

"In 2006, our association was founded as the Asociación Chajulense de Mujeres in Guatemala as a way to create income opportunities and jobs for women. Around 300 women work picking coffee, but the increasing mechanization of the process led to a lot of layoffs and they were left without work.

"Finding ourselves in these conditions, 50 women looked for job alternatives. We decided to return to weaving to create unique crafts to help our families get ahead. With each woman developing her own designs, we create high-quality textiles.

"Our association is self-sustaining and not for profit. It is not political, but is inclusive. We not only promote our weavings, but also work together toward education, women's development and community organization. We also help provide access to credit and savings for the startup of small businesses. All our efforts take the environment into account.

"Our organization has been an adventure, but it has been difficult to reach more people. It's been challenging to find people who want to be part of the of an association and take advantage of it. As we've worked together, we've gotten to know and trust one another. People see that the entire group benefits and each sale positively impacts artisans' lives.

"For us, it was a challenge to reach the level of quality we've achieved in our work. This process has taken time, but shoppers have been very satisfied.

"We've become a source of jobs for women. Many members artisans have been able to sustain their families with the earnings from the association.

"Our work is beautiful. It is related to our culture and nature. It rescues our traditional weaving techniques and creates fair work for women. It has helped us send our children to school.""