Syracuse University SIFE Team Guatemala


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  • Kelly: Good afternoon, and thank you all for being here to learn more about SIFE and the work that we’re currently doing with the women weaver’s of Guatemala. My name is Kelly Fisher, I’m a senior dual retail and marketing major here at Syracuse and the current project leader for Team Guatemala.

    Tamara: Hello, my name is Tamara Feld, and I’m a senior double major in Management and Economics, and I am VP of membership for SU-SIFE as well as a member of Team Guatemala.
  • Kelly: Good afternoon, and thank you all for being here to learn more about SIFE and the work that we’re currently doing with the women weaver’s of Guatemala. My name is Kelly Fisher, I’m a senior dual retail and marketing major here at Syracuse and the current project leader for Team Guatemala.

    Tamara: Hello, my name is Tamara Feld, and I’m a senior double major in Management and Economics, and I am VP of membership for SU-SIFE as well as a member of Team Guatemala.
  • Before we begin, we wanted to take a minute to explain exactly what SIFE is. - SIFE is a global, non-profit organization with student teams on more than 1600 university campuses in 40 countries. SIFE Teams teach important concepts through educational outreach projects, incorporating expertise in the areas of financial literacy, market economics, entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability, business ethics, and personal success skills, in order to better themselves, their communities and their countries.
  • Four years ago, Syracuse University SIFE was formed on the premise that a small group of people can impact the world through commitment, hard work, and dedication. Today Syracuse University SIFE is based out of the Martin J.Whitman school of management and continually works to take expertise into local and international communities to empower the lives of those in need. The team has grown to over 70 active members, continuing with seven legacy projects and in the process of developing three new projects. Each year, SIFE competes at regional expositions with SIFE schools from across the country, and the team won Rookie of the Year in 2006, advanced to National Competition all four years, and placed in the top 16 at National Competition in the last 2 years.
  • Guatemala is one of the most beautiful countries in Central America, with striking mountains, forests, and highlands dotted with Mayan ruins, lakes, and volcanoes. While the indigenous population, the Maya, make up about half of the population, Guatemala remains one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, with 24 ethnic groups among its 12 million inhabitants and an equal number of languages. However, the country’s natural beauty and powerful culture stand in stark contrast to a violent past and troubled present.

    The recent history of Guatemala is one torn by strife and civil war. This war was predominantly fought between the Guatemalan government and insurgents for over 30 years between 1960 and 1996.

    Now, as one of Latin America’s poorest countries, Guatemala struggles hard to overcome the vast socio-economic problems, strengthen its infrastructure, and meet the growing needs of a population steeped in poverty.
  • For more than three thousand years, Mayan women have used the back-strap loom to weave clothing for themselves and their families, and their weavings are considered an important part of their cultural identity and heritage. The Mayan women have also made an important income contribution to their households by selling handwoven goods. For this marginalized population, weaving is an ritual part of their daily life, and it is considered one of the most important responsibilities to pass on the art form from generation to generation.

    Right now, there are nearly one million weavers in Guatemala, and not close to enough outlets or customers for their products. Too often, desperate for cash, the women sell their products for less than it costs them to make. Although Maya weavers are hailed worldwide as talented textile artists, most of them live in conditions of extreme poverty, often making no more than $3 or $4 a month, barely surviving.
    Team Guatemala was started with the mission to assist these women in their quest to raise themselves out of poverty. The team works to help Mayan weaving groups reach a wider market in the United States, providing them with a regular income that enables them and their families to eat better, send their children to school, improve their homes and gain control over their lives.
  • Team Guatemala, or Team G, was started in the winter of 2007, when members of the Syracuse University SIFE team travelled to Guatemala to conduct workshops on jewelry making. One of our SIFE members had an acquaintance who was connected to a Fair Trade organization in Guatemala which worked with groups of indigenous Mayan weavers. After meeting with the US representative for the Fair Trade organizations, the team discovered that there was an opportunity to help the women develop products more suitable for college campuses, a market that was at present entirely untapped. It was then that the team came up with a proposal to create a project that would work to teach a group of Mayan weavers a new skill, jewelry making, and expand their market for both jewelry as well as traditional woven product to new markets in the US.
  • In January of this year Team G was fortunate enough to take a second trip to Guatemala to help develop more product targeting the college market. We expanded our reach to 3 different cooperatives of women to help them develop laptop covers, picture frames, and portfolios. In addition to discussing new product ideas, we focused our workshops on quality control and standardization of their products. Due to recent economic conditions around the world, their orders have decreased significantly. SU-SIFE continues to educate the Mayan women on the importance of opening new markets in order to increase their income and better their lives.
  • Our first trip to Guatemala marked the beginning of a long term business relationship with the groups of weavers in Guatemala. Over the past three years, SU-SIFE has sold the products of these Mayan women in the SU bookstore, and returns 100% of the proceeds back to the women in Guatemala, assuring them a steady income and access to health care and educational services. To ensure ethical business practices, Team G works through two with two fair trade organizations, Mayan Hands and Maya Traditions.
    create product to sell in the SU Bookstore, through two fair trade organizations:
  • The product development efforts of the team have been instrumental in expanding the markets of the fair trade organizations and increasing the profitability of the womens efforts . The beaded jewelry taught on the first trip to Guatemala has been a highly successful addition to the Mayan Hands product line, and is now featured in their nationally distributed catalogue. To date, the jewelry has contributed over $6,000 dollars in sales. Another highly successful SIFE developed product has been the Team G Bracelet, generating more profit for the Mayan women than any other product currently on sale. Now we’re going to show you a clip of Brenda Rosenbaum, the director of one of the fair trade organizations, mayan hands, who is talking about the sife teams involvement in helping the women, in particular the impact of the jewelry product and the carolina bracelet.
  • One of our most successful introductions has been our Orange product line designed exclusively for SU, home of the orange. We challenged the weavers to come up with designs in orange and blue and together have developed coin purses, cosmetic bags, luggage tags and bracelets featuring our signature colors.
  • Team G not only sells within the SU bookstore, but promotes the project through special events in Whitman and throughout the University. The team taken the project beyond campus borders, coordinating special sales at multiple community events. One of the most successful sales efforts was in 2007, when the team organized for their product to be featured at a regional conference, called Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship or WISE. At this conference, Brenda Rosenbaum, the director of Mayan Hands, spoke about the impact of the SIFE team’s work with the Mayan women, and Team G’s products were put on sale generating $850.
  • The team has grown over three years from a small group of five members and an initial inventory of less than 20 products to a team of over 20 active members responsible for an inventory of over 50 different products, many of which are self developed. Weekly sales in the bookstore average around $200 and, with the support of the dean, the Team now regularly sells at special events in the Whitman School of Management. To Date, Team Guatemala has sent back over $25,000 to the women to help improve their lives. The efforts of the team has resulted in the women’s incomes being being raised from less than $3-4 dollars a month to between $40-60 dollars a month
  • Team Guatemala has most recently expanded its retail presence to a breast cancer center in Buffalo, New York. This new venture is uniquely suited for a Team G retail space, as it promotes a type of empowerment for women, by women. SU-SIFE manages everything from purchases and logistics to sales and inventory tracking
  • Now Team G is working on expanding the project to the village of Chumanzana, Guatemala, with an exciting new inititive that we named Threads of Hope. Chumanzana is located about 74 miles from the capital of Guatemala City, and the entire population of is composed of indigenous Mayan people. The Chumanzana community is listed as an area of extreme poverty; Many children do not attend school, and 90% of the vilage is illeterate. The primary livelihood for the community of is agriculture, but jobs are scarce, and cash income is often supplemented by women who weave.

    Over 900 women in Chumanzana are backstrap weavers, and nearly 23,000 weavers live within a 4 mile radius At the present time, the purchase of thread for this weaving requires a full day of travel to Guatemala City. Many of the women have never left their village and do not feel safe making the half hour walk to the bus stop alone or are they comfortable in their ability to travel by bus. The women that do venture out find that travel is costly, time consuming, and requires making arrangements for the care of their children, something not done easily. In fact the cost of a trip at around $10, is the equivalent of an entire box of thread and more than a months income from weaving.
  • The goal for the Threads of Hope project is to build a local thread store in the village of chumanzana that will provide a centralized source of supplies for those within the community and the thousands of weavers in the surrounding areas. This will enable local women weavers to access suppliers easily, safely, and without the cost of travel. For the women running the store, it means empowerment in learning to run their own business, and will be a secondary source of income to support their families, in particular keep their children in school, which is a continual struggle at their current income levels. And lastly, the store will provide for a sustainable source of income for the village, and will promote economic development within the community.
  • To implement the project, our SIFE team plans to travel to Guatemala in January of next year to help the women set up their new venture. This includes teaching the women how to set up and maintain a basic inventory and financial management system, and to set an appropriate pricing structure for their product, which will be retailed about 10% lower than what can currently be purchased in Guatemala city. In addition, we plan to set up a leadership and operational structure for managing the store and maintaining inventories. And lastly, we will help the women to develop a basic marketing plan to spread information about Threads of Hope to the surrounding villages
  • Team G has been an incredible experience for everyone involved , as for the past few years we’ve created together the kind of world we want by helping these Mayan women build a new history. The team has experienced first hand how these women have benefited from this new market. The team continues to help the weavers develop an entrepreneurial mindset understanding that new ideas translate to new opportunities and success in a market-based economy.
  • Syracuse University SIFE Team Guatemala

    1. 1. Text
    2. 2. Syracuse University SIFE - PLACA Presentation Text November 11, 2009
    3. 3. What is SIFE? Students in Free Enterprise Global, non-profit organization present on over 1600 university campuses in 40 countries worldwide. Applying expertise in the areas of; Financial Literacy Market Economics Entrepreneurship Enviornmental Sustainanbility Business Ethics Personal Success Skills
    4. 4. SU-SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) Formed in 2005 Based out of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management Over 70 active members 10 ongoing projects
    5. 5. Mayan Backstrap Weaving Mayan women have been practicing the art of backstrap weaving for over 3000 years The weavings are an important form of cultural identity There are currently over 1 Million weavers in Guatemala Team Guatemala was started with the mission to help these weaver’s raise themselves out of poverty by opening up a wider market for their art.
    6. 6. Team G Background • Developed proposal for international outreach project in fall of 2006 • Travelled to Guatemala in the winter of 2007 • Held a 5-day workshop on beaded jewelry making
    7. 7. January 2009 Trip Worked with 60 women in 3 cooperatives Developed laptop covers, picture frames and portfolios Quality control
    8. 8. Team Guatemala fixture in the Upon return from Guatemala the team secured a retail SU bookstore The team now sells products of jewelry making workshops along with traditional woven product Products are purchased and sold in collaboration with two fair trade organizations
    9. 9. Product Development Beaded Jewelry featured in the nationally distributed Mayan Hands catalogue Team G Bracelet
    10. 10. Brenda Rosenbaum, Director of Mayan Hands
    11. 11. Orange & Blue Product • Product line designed exclusively for Syracuse University • Designs applied to luggage tags, coin purses, cosmetic bags, bracelets, and keychains.
    12. 12. Special Events Team G not only sells in the bookstore, but at University and community events. One of the most successful events has been the WISE conference, generating over $850 in a single day.
    13. 13. Project Impact Team has grown from 4 to over 20 active members Inventory diversified to over 50 different products Over $25,000 sent back to date Incomes raised from $3-4 dollars a month to $40-60 dollars a month
    14. 14. New Project Initiative Threads of Hope Expansion of Guatemala project to women’s weaving group in Chumanzana, Guatemala Area of extreme poverty 90% illiteracy Over 900 backstrap weavers in Chumanzana, 23,000 within a 4 mile radius The travel to buy raw thread supplies requires a full day of travel to Guatemala City and at around $10, is equivalent to a month’s income from weaving.
    15. 15. Threads of Hope Project Concept Goal to Build a thread store that will; Allow the local women and surrounding Mayan weavers to access supplies easily, more affordably and safely. To enable the women to learn how to run their own business, generate additional revenue to support their families (e.g. keep children in school). To create an ongoing, sustainable revenue source.
    16. 16. Threads of Hope Project Implementation Plan to travel to Guatemala in January of 2010 with SU-SIFErs to “build the store” Team will set up/teach management of Basic inventory system Financial management & pricing structure Operational structure, supply chain management, and inventory replenishment Basic marketing plan for surrounding villages
    17. 17. Opportunities in a Global Ecoonomy Thanks to the group for your visit for having present in your heart and bringing new ideas that translate into new opportunities for work for us, because we need new markets and more products to sell. - Diega, the leader of the Vasconsuelos group