'Ixoq Ajchak' means in Quiche, Mayan language, 'working women'. It is also the name of a project that FUNDAP and Fundación del Valle launched in 2006 in Guatemala to help improve educational and employment opportunities for girls, young and adult women in the rural communities settled in the departments of San Marcos, Quetzaltenango and Solola.
Supported by the commitment and perseverance of Guatemalan women, 'Ixoq Ajchak' is currently helping to improve their quality of life, promoting sustainable development with full respect for their dignity, culture and traditions.
More than 900 women trained
In 2008, when the project 'Ixoq Ajchak' ended, 1,085 women organized in 49 community banks acceded to a credit that allowed them to start or improve their business. In addition, 988 women received business training that had a strong multiplying effect on their communities.
These community banks, which guarantee the sustainability of the project, are maintained by a rotating fund managed by the 'Microenterprise Program (Women and Work)' of FUNDAP, that complements the granting of loans with constant training both in the field of health, personal development, etc., as in business matters, consultancy or technical training, among others.
The 'Microenterprise Program' is part of the so called 'Business Development Support Program (PROSEM)' of FUNDAP, which only in 2010 attended to over 59,441 women and helped generate more than 70,000 jobs. PROSEM has various lines of credit designed to stimulate economic and social entrepreneurship. Along with the Credits for Women, which belong to the line of community banks, are the Credits for the Infrastructure that stimulate the emergence or improvement of buildings with a productive approach (workshops); Agriculture and Livestock Credits that promote development or consolidation of rural productive projects; Credits for Micro and Small Enterprises that promote the spread of small businesses; and a line of Consume Credit led to the acquisition of personal property complementary to the productive work. All credit lines are accompanied by constant training and advice.
300 girls with scholarship
Along with improving access to credit, the project 'Ixoq Ajchak' contemplates an educational component that has promoted scholarships for 300 girls of primary school and 40 of the basic cycle.
To this end, 12% of the interests generated with the credits of community banks are given annually to the 'PEVI Program' by the 'Microenterprise Program', a system created by FUNDAP to ensure the funding of scholarships for girls through a rotary endowment. Thanks to this system, between 2010 and 2012 were awarded 915 scholarships for the basic and primary levels. To ensure the appropriate performance of girls, regular visits are made to check possible learning problems or lack of attendance.
Finally, the third component of 'Ixoq Ajchak', formative in nature, has allowed strengthen the employability of 24 young people through their participation in technical training courses in areas such as Bakery, Cosmetic and Agricultural Industry.
Women living in communities in which the project is developed face a reality marked by double discrimination because they are women and indigenous. For decades they have been confined to domestic and agricultural work, but their efforts and results are not recognized.
Combined with a low income they receive, other aspects such as the early dropout of school by girls or insufficient technical training of women to develop productive employment, block access to opportunities to enjoy a dignified life, full rights.
In order to fight against these limitations the project 'Ixoq Ajchak', funded by the Regional Government of Castilla La Mancha, has provided the necessary resources to promote educational and training opportunities for young women, as well as employment options for adult so they can satisfy the basic economic needs of their families.