Belizean Artisans (MTBCAAS)
As part of the “Making Tourism Benefit Communities Adjacent to Archaeological Sites”, from February 24 to April 5, Belzeb Inc. of Grenada, West Indies, in partnership with ATA, completed a series of Small Business Market Readiness Training in Belize City, San Ignacio, Orange Walk and Big Falls. The training team comprised of Judy Karwacki, president of Small Planet Consulting, and Daniela Viscarra, founder of Jalsuri Foundation.
These workshops were followed by two rounds of product development in which the artisans learn about improving existing products and develop a new collection of products that will eventually be introduced to the tourism market through a Marketing Launch Event scheduled for early in the fall 2014. To ensure sustainability of the craft component of this program, the team also conducted a Train of Trainer workshop for 17 facilitators including individuals from key stakeholders.
Belzeb’s and ATA’s part in the MTBCAAS project is scheduled to be completed on November 2014.
ATA is proud to introduce some of the artisans who attended the Small Business Market Readiness Training:
Maria and Paulita Garcia
For 35 years, Maria and Paulita Garcia from the Cayo district have been producing slate stone carved crafts and jewelry with their family of five sisters. To keep their culture and handcraft traditions alive, they participated in the MTBCAAS training and product development workshops to learn more about how to properly exhibit and sell their products.
Led by Martha and Carlos Chiac, Living Maya produces basketry, wood carved, hammocks weaving, and cuxtal weaving in the Toledo district. Now that the MTBCAAS training and product development workshops is over, they hope to take what they’ve learned and market their products that best represents their traditions to tourists, especially as they receive them in their own house as part of the Living Maya concept.
The Magaña Family
The Magaña family have been producing stale stone carvings, wood carvings, and ceramics for over 30 years in the Cayo district. Jose Magaña and his sons manage a Maya archaeological-like ruin made by hand for tourists to visit as well as experience making traditional arts and crafts. His brother German and nephew, Omar, runs another family workshop developing products and techniques near Xunantunich archaeological site. With the MTBCAAS training, the Magaña family looks forward to improving sales with new products and to developing new designs based on their culture.
Javier and Andrea Mendez
For 15 years, Javier and Andrea Mendez of Altun-ha have been creating wood carvings and selling them on cruise ships to tourists. Through the MTBCAAS training, they learned how to improve their products and how to think in new ideas for products. As a family business, they strive to share their cultural with the world while also providing for their family.
Marvin and Leticia Meza
As husband and wife, Marvin and Leticia Meza have been producing wood carvings, wood art paintings, and cement models for 30 years in Orange Walk. Together, they want to pass on their craft traditions to the next generation, so they have a training program for young artisans. Through the MTBCAAS training, they look forward to applying the skills they’ve learned to improve their business and create innovative and profitable products.
In the Toledo district, Victor Mas and his group of artisans have been producing limestone carvings and ceramics for 15 years, now he formed a group with other fellow artisans. With the MTBCAAS training, Victor looks forward to developing new products based on their rich Maya culture that will sell and help improve the lives of the people in his community.