GUATEMALA, NOVEMBER 6 – On November 6th, Sololá’s central park was transformed into a hive of activity as vendors from as far away as Huehuetenango and Baja Verapaz lined the streets with booths offering a wide variety of seeds, plants, organic fertilizers, medicines, traditional foods, cakes, jams, shampoos, and textiles. A live marimba band kept the mood festive as buyers interacted with the women selling products created through GFI’s Sololá Agro-Industry Initiative.
SAII’s expo marked the debut of the “Braided Women of Sololá” logo, a collaborative effort in which GFI, CEIBA, and SAII producers had the opportunity to create and select a logo symbolizing interconnectedness and unity. At the expo, SAII producers labeled all products and stamped brown paper bags with the newly created image. Some women labeled bell pepper starter plants and natural fertilizer in recycled Pepsi bottles. Traditional sweets were packaged in clear plastic bags with a corn husk bow. Overall, the product presentation showed a newfound pride and professionalism, with one group even printing customized business cards.
The expo was a culmination of the market access training implemented by GFI over the past several months. Upon witnessing the women’s confident interpersonal interactions with buyers, Jessica Yarrow commented:
The women practiced some of the sales techniques we discussed in trainings, like offering samples to customers and talking about the benefits of their products. They also educated consumers about how to use their products; for instance, the women selling organic fertilizer educated consumers about how to apply it to plants.
SAII beneficiaries were pleased with sales from the expo, and recognized that the opportunity to present their products to the public was an important initial step towards gaining more clients. One potential buyer inquired about sourcing gallons of natural fertilizers for the farming communities in which he works. Additionally, the women of Sololá sold nearly 40 jars of pickled hot peppers, vegetables, and 25 bottles of shampoo. SAII producers were happy with the sales of the day.
The event garnered positive local attention, even attracting the local TV Station and national Guatevision, along with coverage in two daily newspapers. Most importantly, the fair was an opportunity to build the women producers’ confidence and increase local awareness and engagement. In the end, both buyers and producers seemed satisfied with the course of the day’s events.
by Twila Tschan