While many know Yabal as an ethical fashion brand, what they do not know is that we are a social enterprise program of the Guatemalan non-profit, Yabal Guatemala. Our Board of Directors is made up of women leaders from our artisan communities and the Director of the social enterprise, Allison Havens, originally from the US but has lived in Guatemala for over 7 years now.
Yabal Guatemala promotes the empowerment of indigenous women and their families in rural Guatemalan highland communities through a focus on their economic self-sufficiency. We believe that women are the center of the family and home with the greatest influence over the success of their children, the future generation of the community. Yabal Guatemala focuses on the economic independence of women, education, food security, and the promotion of entrepreneurship as paths towards sustainability and poverty reduction for rural indigenous communities.
The Yabal brand social enterprise was developed to create jobs for over 50 indigenous Mayan women living in rural impoverished communities.
The bi-monthly weaving jobs Yabal provides to our women artisans are crucial for their families. To get a better sense of the urgency of the work of Yabal for our women partners, here’s a bit more information about their lives:
Our women artisan live in rural communities without local commerce centers. They have little (if any) education, limited Spanish language skills, are also mothers responsible for household tasks such as firewood collection, childcare, hand-washing laundry, cooking, etc. Even if they wanted to travel outside the home to look for work, there is little work available to them and the work that might be available (house-cleaning, cooking) doesn’t pay enough for them to afford bus fare to travel to and from the city each day. In addition, if they wanted to sell their weavings or other goods in the city market, the payment they recieve wouldn’t make the bus trip cost efficient. Electricity is scarce, telephone service spotty, and forget about internet or computer access. Education is expensive and high schools far away from the communities. And on top of that, there is a machismo culture that does not empower or give many opportunities to women or girls. In addition, these particular families do not own farmland in order to even grow the majority of their own food.
These are the challenges our rural communities face and the reason why Yabal Guatemala and our social enterprise Yabal were created over 10 years ago.
Like many Mayan women in Guatemala, our women weavers are crazy talented artisans and weavers, but they have few options for connecting with markets and buyers, especially buyers that will pay them a fair price.
So each time you buy a Yabal product, know that you provide our women with a livelihood, with economic independence and confidence, and give hope where there was none!