The craft project began during the early 1990’s to provide employment for the women and to help fund the Growth Monitoring program. In addition to our Guatemala location we also have a US distribution center for 15+ years and our recently added shop in the arts and spa town of Berkeley Springs, WV, we call “The Itty Bitty Global Gift Shop.” It carries not only UPAVIM products but also beautiful fair trade products from around the world. The distribution center has a wholesale/retail website online where anyone can order from us. www.upavimcrafts.org
We produce and sell a huge variety of quality products to many different countries. These include hair accessories, jewelry, holiday ornaments, nativities, clerical stoles, baby products, kitchen accessories, pet products, kids toys, a large assortment of bags, wallets, and more.
Our sales now help cover the expenses for the daycare, pre-school and school. We have been and always will be 100% committed to fair trade principles as founding members of the Fair Trade Federation. By making a fair wage we have been able to pull ourselves out of poverty, improve our living conditions, feed and care for our families, and send our children to school.
UPAVIM and Fair Trade
We want you to feel good about buying our products and know where they come from. We want you know who we are and what we stand for. Fair trade to us is more than just business; it is a way of life. It is a conscious choice and a commitment to equity, social and economic justice. UPAVIM embodies the spirit of fair trade.
How do the principles of fair trade fit into our work at UPAVIM?
- Creating job opportunities. We provide opportunities for women where there are few alternatives. UPAVIM employs the women of La Esperanza and in doing so, empowers an entire community.
- Developing Transparent and Accountable Relationships. We partner with other artisans in Guatemala both for raw materials and products. We have a real, direct relationship with these other groups across the country, getting to know each other and seeing where the goods come from, how they are handled. Each person we work with has a familiar face, not just a name and a number.
- Building Capacity. To us, this means a mentality of solidarity, trust and respect for all producers. We want to strengthen communities and artisans beyond just our own. Competition can be fierce between groups and there is a lack of openness and communication. We know that everyone stands to benefit from open dialogue – to grow and learn from each other. Therefore, we collaborate with other cooperatives across the country, seeking and giving advice about best practices.
- Promoting Fair Trade. As a member of the Fair Trade Federation, we do our part to promote fair trade. We encourage conversations about what Fair Trade means in the greater global economic context. Creating educated, conscious consumers is the key.
- Providing a Livable Wage and Safe and Empowering Working Conditions. At UPAVIM, security means more than just paying a fair wage that provides financial security; it is also a safe and empowering workplace. It means our women feel appreciated, heard, and respected. Through our cooperative governing structure, the women are the decision makers; each voice is recognized and considered.
- Ensuring Rights of Children. First and foremost, we are mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters; we are providers. Our work centers around creating opportunities for our children to just be kids—to learn, to grow, to play. Our daycare, tutoring program and school all aim to create safe spaces for the children of our community.
- Crafting Cultures of Inclusivity. We strive to empower women and find opportunities based on the best fit for the individual. Women in our organization work in a variety of capacities based on their skills and interests. Inclusivity to us also means providing all our women with the opportunities to gain new skills and learn through a variety of trainings.
- Cultivating Environmental Stewardship. We do our best to support sustainable practices. We use recycled materials in order to minimize our environmental footprint– we reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible. We also educate youth in our community to foster a sense of social responsibility to the environment.
- Respecting Cultural Identity. We are all proudly Guatemalan. Our products reflect the traditions and designs of our culture and history. We want to treasure and celebrate our roots and our diversity. We are able to share a part of our culture and ourselves by creating our products that find their way to you.
The Future of Fair Trade
We together decide the future of Fair Trade. Consumers and producers all share the responsibility and burden of committing together to making Fair Trade a lifestyle.
For more information visit: