María Pacheco talks about social consciousness, how the idea of Wakami came about and about our impact in Guatemalan communities with Esquire MY. “Through our entrepreneurial driven model, artisans are able to empower themselves and become leaders of change in their communities.”
December 11, 2016
Established in 2006 by Kiej de los Bosques, a social enterprise in Guatemala with the mission of generating income in disconnected rural communities, Wakami is a socially conscious brand that designs handmade fashion accessories. As on of the finalists for the 2015 Chivas Regal The Venture, an international contest open to social entrepreneurs who are using their business as a force for good, we speak to Wakami’s founder, Maria Pacheco on her experiences being a part of The Venture and how being its finalist has helped Wakami with its dreams.
ESQUIRE: Can you tell us about Wakami and what it’s all about?
MARIA PACHECO: Our brand represents a rustic, yet urban lifestyle and encourages people to connect with one another—the Earth—their dreams. We aim to enrich the lives of both the artisans who create Wakami products and those who buy them, inspiring them to do what they love most. Through our entrepreneurial driven model, artisans are able to empower themselves and become leaders of change in their communities.
ESQ: How did the idea come about?
MP: The idea came about when communities, especially rural women in very vulnerable communities said: “If you can sell what we produce, the rest we can do.” We then had a vision of what great communities would look like. This vision has transformed into the Wakami’s dream that all communities have houses and that all houses have a window, that from all windows you may see a garden and that in all gardens there is a ball, that all the balls belong to boys and girls who go to school, and that all schools have committees of parents who work, that all who work can reach the markets, and that markets multiply the houses with windows, that from all the windows, birds and trees are multiplied, and so that the sky may be blue and the sun shine for everyone.
At Wakami, we believe in the power of dreams as the source of transformation and the power of the markets as the source of sustained prosperity. Wakami then links rural communities to global markets as a way to generate income and transform cycles of poverty into cycles of prosperity.
ESQ: How has Wakami contributed in helping the rural communities of Guatemala?
MP: Wakami’s products are currently being produced by almost 500 women belonging to 18 communities of Guatemala. The income generated by the producers and business owners translates into formal education for their children (especially for girls)—140 percent more school attendance than the national average and a better nutritional status—56 percent of children improving their nutritional status. Wakami shows that when women have a source of income, they become powerful agents of change.