Read the story from a programme's beneficiary: Amalia the tortilla seller
(This story was written by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women's staff and was first published here)
Meet Amalia Martínez, a tortilla seller and woman entrepreneur. Amalia has just completed one cohort of our Mujeres A.V.E programme launched in partnership with Trafigura Foundation and SiKanda in Oaxaca, Mexico.
The programme exists to provide entrepreneurs with a safe space in which they can meet other women, to discuss topics that interest them, alongside receiving tailored business skills training, coaching, counselling and childcare. Implemented in the vicinity of the largest landfill site of Oaxaca, one of the main contributions of the project is focusing on networks and community building.
The training, implemented by our local partner SiKanda, also explores ways that women can work collectively. This is because collective strategies to buy from suppliers, manage risks and promote businesses can impact both the individuals, but also strengthen overall social cohesion in the community.
One of the key examples of activities that can achieve this is a peer-to-peer exercise where women share their business experiences with each other to identify services or product providers that they have in common.
When the Foundation came to visit the project this summer Amalia shared with us that she was the sole supporter of her family. A mother of seven, three of her children still depend on her income. Amalia, who speaks the Zapotec language, explained that before joining the project she was very lonely and generally sad because of the many problems she faces at home and in her business. By participating in Mujeres A.V.E. though, she feels more supported, and enjoys sharing her time with and learning from other women.
Access to information is scarce in Zaachila because few women have access to internet, a phone, or leave the municipality on a regular basis. The information provided by the programme and its central learning hub or ‘One-Stop-Shop’ has been key and had strong immediate impacts on the women. Where the entrepreneurs were unaware of many of the other services offered by their existing Community Centre, including early education activities for children under six and computer literacy lessons, some have now already taken these things up. Others have started to use the library and children’s room providing a safe convening space for themselves and also for their families.
The training of our second cohort of entrepreneurs is now underway with a new small group of entrepreneurs. We look forward to bringing more updates from the project in 2020.