Based in Guatemala

UPAVIM: Unidas Para Vivir Mejor

A Non-profit

Organization Details

The mission of our organization, UPAVIM, is to empower the women of our community, giving them an opportunity to improve the quality of life, for themselves and for their families. We pursue this mission by giving them access to education, employment opportunities, daycare services for their children, health care services, and programs for personal and professional development. UPAVIM is locally run and operated by the women of La Esperanza, a former squatter settlement on the outskirts of Guatemala City. International volunteers are invited to live and work at UPAVIM as English teachers, craft designers, or program coordinators in the after school program, Reforzamiento.

Support Needs

We’re looking to improve our product design with:

Brand Strategy andProduct Design

We’re looking to improve our hiring & team growth with:

FacilitationHuman ResourcesLeadership andSocial Sciences

Impact Story

We began making crafts in 1991 to provide jobs for the women and to pay for the Growth Monitoring program and day care. Our first craft products were barrettes and scrunchies. When our first big order for 50 scrunchies for a La Leche League conference came in we were so excited! We’ve come a long way since that day. With the completion of the building in 1994, we expanded the crafts production and added the Montessori daycare facility. During this time, various UPAVIMas have made trips to the United States Fair Trade Conferences which helped us to increase our sales through organizations like 10,000 Villages and SERRV. Dedicated volunteers like Lane and Priscilla Hart enabled us to maintain a U.S. market in the 1990’s by taking orders and shipping in the U.S. We then became members of the Fair Trade Federation.

Also during this period several women were trained by Dr. Lilian Moncada Davidson, professor at Queens College in New York.  We opened a day care center and began integrating the Montessori method into our pre-school classes.  We made plans to open our own school some day with other teachers experienced in the montessori system. In the following years, the teachers have continued their studies in the United States, El Salvador, the Conference of the Reading Council in Guatemala and in workshops. The Kellogg Foundation financed a trip for two cooperative members to travel to Brazil to observe a similar project.

Through these investments in human resources and the expansion of the market for our crafts, UPAVIM grew from a small community health project to a successful, independent, democratically run business cooperative that provides social services in a growing community, which receives no assistance from the local or national governments.