Social Business at the Grassroots

Mayan Power and Light is an innovative development model designed to democratize community participation and elevate local change agents with social business strategies that serve the urgent needs of their communities. Offering free workshops to promote public uptake of green technologies, rural social businesses can help improve public health and reduce stress on the environment.

Studies show that women's economic empowerment is essential to the next generation's experience of climate change. As family providers and mainstays of culture, women are positioned to embrace environmental solutions that will benefit them and their families.  

Our program empowers rural women to manage successful social businesses to distribute affordable solar power, water filters and fuel-saving stoves past the Last Mile.

Challenge

Guatemala is the 3rd poorest country in the western hemisphere. Malnutrition is endemic with 50% of children chronically malnourished.  In the Western Highlands, an alarming 75% live in poverty and another 27% in extreme poverty. Respiratory illness and intestinal diseases are leading causes of death, particularly among women and children - linked to contaminated water and poor indoor air from cooking fires and kerosene lamps.

A lack of jobs sends educated young people to urban areas, where social problems are reaching a precipice and rural communities lose potential leaders.

Lack of education, training and income generation opportunities keeps people trapped in poverty. Women and girls face additional gender and geographical barriers to education and participation in the workforce. Climate change disproportionately affects women in agricultural communities, with few economic opportunities, women struggle to feed and educate their children, continuing the cycle of poverty.

For climate resiliency, communities need strong local economies that are inclusive, diverse and ecological.

Solution

We have identified three essential technologies that help save the environment and benefit family health and wellbeing.

Solar power abates carbon emissions and give better light for children to do homework and women to weave at night. Clean cookstoves improve air quality, burn less wood and save forests.

Water filters save fuel used to boil water to avoid intestinal parasites. 

This innovative program has three distinct and complementary components to increase awareness and access to essential technologies that address the keystones to development: health, education and economic opportunity.

1. Raise public awareness about how water filtration, solar electricity and clean cookstoves can save their family's health, finances and the environment. 

2. Create access to these essential technologies in isolated, rural areas with non-profit distribution and subsidized rates.

3. Provide long-term access to essential technologies with social entrepreneurship training and business start-up in rural communities.

We focus on women's participation in business to spread impact to the next generation and model social change. Our entreprenuership training program comes complete with personal empowerment skills and business strategies to overcome gender barriers to business.

Leveraging market-based solutions, this program supports sustainable economic growth, health & sanitation, women's empowerment and environmental protection by investing in awareness, access and affordability. 

Long-Term Impact

Solar Power, Water Filters, and Fuel-saving Smokeless stoves improve the long term health of 10,000 more low-income families every year: enabling them to spend less time out of work and less money on health care associated with respiratory disease and parasites.

Nighttime efficiency and savings from affordable solar power solutions also helps advance the economic development of a community. Empowered women distributors of these products are positive role models to girls and change gender norms.

12 mayan women start-up social venture businesses as they educate the public and distribute affordable solar power, clean cookstoves and water filters throughout the Western Highlands of Guatemala. 

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