In Guatemala, a cooperative of indigenous women is now exporting goods to international markets with the support of an IFAD grant. By offering a broad range of social and economic services that encourage women’s empowerment, the cooperative has also helped 70 per cent of its members escape poverty over the past three years. Now its successes are spreading across the region.

Since it was created in 2006, the Mujeres Cuatro Pinos cooperative has promoted a comprehensive model of rural development and women’s empowerment. In addition to providing access to credit, technology, inputs and markets, the cooperative also offers health services, training, day care for children and an accelerated elementary school programme – with scholarships – where members or their families can finish their schooling. For the Kaqchiquel women who make up the cooperative, these services enable them to pursue life-changing opportunities.

In addition to the social services, the cooperative also enables members to boost their productivity and incomes. Thanks to its Exporter Code, Mujeres Cuatro Pinos is the first women’s cooperative in Guatemala to export products directly to markets in the United States and Europe. To take full advantage of this opportunity, the cooperative’s members have started growing high-demand, high-value crops such as baby carrots, sweet peas, Chinese peas and string beans.