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Posts Tagged ‘responsible tourism’

Today is International Women’s Day and I’m choosing to celebrate the day by honoring the women borrowers of Fundación En Vía, Oaxaca’s successful microfinance organization.  The feminization of poverty continues to be a global issue — “women and girls fare worse than men and boys on a range of factors that may predispose them to poverty, including having their own source of income, ownership and control of assets and decision-making within their households.” — UN Women and the World Bank unveil new data analysis on women and poverty.

Tereza López López and her daughter – Comedor de Tere (diner), San Miguel del Valle.

A few statistics are in order to appreciate the incredible need this program is attempting to meet in Oaxaca.  According to a 2010 report by Coneval on poverty in Mexico, 67.4% of the people of Oaxaca live in moderate or extreme poverty and En Vía reports that 93% of their borrowers do not have a high school diploma.

María Zacarias Hernandez Hernandez – Mandiles (aprons) and bolsas (bags), San Miguel del Valle.

En Vía “works to promote women’s empowerment, the well-being of their families, and the strengthening of their communities by providing participatory programs that encourage the growth of income-generating businesses and personal development.”

Petronila Lopez Garcia – Tapetes (rugs), San Miguel del Valle.

They “do this through the unique combination of educational programs, interest-free micro-loans and responsible tourism.”  A series of eight basic business classes are given before the first loan of 1500 pesos is given.  Borrowers have ten to fifteen weeks to repay the loans.  Currently, En Vía has a 99.8% repayment rate.

Sara Ruiz Lorenzo – Velas (candles), Teotitlán del Valle.

In addition to required attendance at monthly business classes, free optional enrichment courses are offered, including classes in computers, English language, and women’s health.  And, after repaying their loans, borrowers can apply for additional loans to continue growing their businesses.

Ludivina Vasquez Gutierrez – Tapetes (rugs) and bolsas (bags), Teotitlán del Valle.

Where do you and I come in?  En Vía offers a variety of Responsible Tourism experiences — including their twice weekly tours to visit borrowers (often in their homes).  It is incredibly uplifting to hear the women describe their businesses and involvement in the program and especially to see the pride they have in what they have learned and accomplished.  FYI:  76% of En Vía’s revenue comes from their Responsible Tourism fees.  Believe me, it’s well worth it and I guarantee you will come away enriched by the experience.

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