The women of the El Cacao Productive Group, a Honduran cooperative, are using their storied weaving skills to break the cycle of poverty for their families. It’s all possible thanks to Food For The Poor (FFTP) in partnership with CEPUDO and Mercado Global, which works directly with the women artisans.
In 2021, CEPUDO, FFTP’s trusted partner in Honduras, built a training center for 28 weavers who make up the cooperative. Now, they want to take their training center to the next level and improve the lives of the artisans they work with, who are Lenca women.
The Lenca people are the largest indigenous population in Honduras today with around 2,000 villages and 116,000 people.
Today, FFTP recognizes the rich culture and traditions of these Honduran artisans as the charity marks National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.
The new project is an expansion opportunity in which Mercado Global will take what it’s learned from its model in Guatemala and apply it in Honduras to connect the women and their brightly colored fabrics to well-known major retailers and international markets.
The women from the El Cacao cooperative will weave their own pieces with the traditional Lenca designs with a modern spin to create new designs. Working with Mercado Global, the woven fabric will be sent to Guatemala, where indigenous women will sew them into items like shawls, blankets and handbags.
Maria Teresa, one of the women in the El Cacao cooperative, said the women want to continue working and selling their Lenca products.
In the past, Maria Teresa and her fellow weavers have received technical assistance and financial training from CEPUDO.
“We are all working hard to create a better way of life, have the ability to take care of our health and send our children to school,” she said.
Since 2004, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Mercado Global has empowered indigenous women in Guatemala to break the cycle of poverty by connecting them to international markets and selling their goods to national retailers like Target, Nordstrom, Levi Strauss and Anthropologie. As a nonprofit, all proceeds from Mercado Global’s sales to its retail clients go back to its partner artisans.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the indigenous population in Honduras already struggled with poverty, food insecurity and violence. The compounding effects of the pandemic left the women in an even more dire situation, without enough income to support the basic needs of their families.
Earlier this year, a team from FFTP traveled to Honduras and met the Lenca women.
FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said the new project will bond the women in a way that creates a better life for all of them.