September 2018-2021


Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), Aid to Artisans is implementing the Manos Vivas project to improve income generation of artisan women in the Highlands of Chiapas and the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, by providing specialized technical assistance to improve the quality of their products and diversify their access to fair markets.

Manos Vivas sees the cultural heritage, skills, and community as assets to improve the lives of artisans and their families. Manos Vivas addresses artisans’ systemic challenges through a community driven development approach. Manos Vivas will strengthen local leadership, improve individuals’ confidence and gender equity, increase financial literacy, and improve artisan incomes so artisans may better provide for their families. It is aligned with our values: We empower people by providing them with opportunities and skills to help themselves. We promise technical excellence, direct communication, teamwork, and self-respect. We celebrate differences in individuals and cultures. The goals of Manos Vivas are central to our mission: “Focusing on regions with pressing human needs, CL enhances the capacity of local organizations around the world to improve the lives of people in their communities.” We assist artisan businesses to become sustainable, raise incomes and living conditions for children, families and communities.

Aid to Artisans has a long history working with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Mexico and upon completion of the Manos Vivas Project, will have been active in Chiapas for 8 continuous year and 3 years in the Peninsula.

During the 3-year project, ATA will improve lives for artisans in Yucatán, Quintana Roo, Campeche and in the Highlands of Chiapas, through human empowerment, financial skills
building, improved gender roles and income through sustainable craft businesses.

Specifically, ATA will:

  • Advance Human Development and Gender: Promote a process of change in the lives of artisans, by lifting limitations based on gender, raising self-confidence and improving income from craft. A series of asset-based community driven development meetings and gender workshops will be held in each community with local promotoras, to organize community members, map their shared assets, improve self-confidence and identify priorities for development.
  • Strengthen Business Skills, Market-Based Design, Production, and Quality: In response to identified skills gaps by the artisan community members, we will offer capacity building workshops through localized Market Readiness Programs and a follow up “Boot Camp” methodology of personalized business coaching and mentoring. Regular follow-ups with promotoras in the communities will ensure individuals and organizations are supported in the learning process and that each community receives the appropriate support. Promotoras will work with communities to encourage creativity and adapt designs for new markets using traditional techniques and cultural heritage. Follow up “finishing workshops” will occur to assist with production and quality improvements.
  • Increase in Economic and Financial Inclusion: MV will offer Financial literacy training for communities to improve their ability to plan and save for the future. Commercial links will be fostered at national and international levels, based on artisan capacity, to increase incomes for families and communities. Our strategy is to shift community reliance on external financing and to encourage the use of diverse financial tools. A community savings group will be established for the financing of entrepreneurial initiatives and other community goals.
  • Influence Sector Strategies: Our strategy is to assist artisans in organizing to demand community identified improvements in local and state policy. Regional networking meetings will be held and artisans encouraged to organize to address suggestions to sector leaders, government, NGOs, and private industry. Artisans will also be encouraged to organize beyond their immediate family or community, to work together on raw material sourcing, increase their production capacity to attract larger commercial orders, and search for funding or investment opportunities, either by region, municipality or group.
  • Strengthen Supply Chain (Yucatán): Designers will search the market for suppliers of natural raw materials and secure a regional source of raw materials at fair prices for a raw materials bank. This “bank” was successfully established as part of the Kip Tik operation under our previous project and we intend to duplicate this success in the Yucatan.

Accomplishment to date:

  • Complete Local Market Readiness Program and Asset-Based Community Development for staff in Mexico

Project Lead in US

Monika Steinberger

Project Lead in Mexico

Maria-Eugenia Piñeda Melendez