Maya-Women’s Cooperative Ut'z Bat'z
in Chichicastenango, Guatemala
A dream come true ...
Chichicastenango is the largest Indian handicraft market of Central America/Mexico. On Thursday and Sunday the streets and central square are a colourful mix of products and people. The women from the small villages surrounding Chichi are the ones who produce the market products at very low prices.
After a long process of training and preparation we established the handicraft cooperative Ut’z Bat’z in 2008 with 22 women from the vicinity of Chichicastenango! Emiliana, the best embroiderer and a very intelligent and determined woman, was appointed president. She recognises the opportunity for development and has embraced it fully. Together with four other women she will form the head of the cooperative.
In June 2008, we opened a fair trade shop where we sell high quality products from other cooperatives with the same vision alongside our own.
Check the flyer with opening hours on this link.
Visit us at the following address:
5a Avenida 5-24, Zona 1, Local 21, Chichicastenango, Guatemala
Entrance in between Hotel Chuguila and Banrural
One block from market square towards the Arch!
Wednesday 1 to 5 PM, Thursday 9 AM to 5 PM ,
Saturday 10 AM to 5 PM, Sunday 9 AM to 5 PM.
Why choose the womens’ cooperative Ut'z Bat'z in Guatemala?
- There is a strong need for local development in Guatemala.
- The women are illiterate with little education are receive poor wages for their work.
- Because of our direct commercial relationship with the craftsman they receive a better price for their product. The result is an alleviation of the daily struggle to earn money to support their families.
- By creating Ut'z Bat'z, we ensure a transparent management structure and we encourage cooperation.
- Women will become their own bosses and will be able to run their business independently in a couple of years.
- En Mi Salsa can through Ut'z Bat'z be a direct contribution to the economic and social development of Mayan women by increasing their skills.
By purchasing our products you directly support Ut'z Bat'z!
You can also invest in Ut'z Bat'z by making a donation. The money will be invested in training in the production process, new working techniques, marketing and research.
What does Ut'z Bat'z mean?
Ut'z Bat'z means "good thread" in Quiché, the Mayan language that people in this region speak and the most widely spoken of the 23 Mayan languages in Guatemala. We work exclusively with high-quality materials. Bat'z is also the day in the Mayan calendar in which life rolls on and off the wire and symbolically takes life into the hand. On this day the women honor their Mayan identity because they traditionally make their own costumes.
More information about the products:
- Hand woven and embroidered by Quiche Mayan women from the vicinity of Chichicastenango, Guatemala.
- We work only with first-quality materials bought by ourselves. Our products are dye fast, do not shrink and do not contain toxic dyes.
- Women are continuously trained and supported in their work. As the quality of the work increases, they receive more payment for their products.
The story of Rosa
Francien: "I met Rosa when I visited Chichi with a group of tourists. She had a baby on the back and a four year old girl with her. Her modesty and openness caught my attention. A month later I was back in Chichi when I heard someone call my name. When I looked up I saw Rosa's daughter Sonya waving at me. In the throng of tourists they had recognized me.
I took them for something to eat as they had sold nothing that day. Rosa was remarkably open, an uncommon trait for Maya’s from small villages. She lives with her daughters and her mother in a small room without a bed and running water. She had left her husband as his alcoholism had used up all the money.
Rosa had to support her family with 2 Euros a day (a litre of milk costs 90 Euro cents) and was illiterate like seventy percent of the Mayan women in Guatemala. Officially, her daughters had access to education, but the payment of school fees and school uniform was too much.
Children in Guatemala often work at least one day to increase the family income. Some children therefore go to evening school. Another problem is the lack of schools and there was no place available for Rosa's oldest daughter.
One day Rosa was selling a very nice homemade tapestry which I bought and gave away when I was back in the Netherlands. Everyone thought it was really beautiful and that how I came up with the idea of producing handicraft. By paying the women directly I could ensure a good income for them. The "fair trade" idea was born.
Rosa and I have been friends for years now. I hope Rosa and other women in the course of time can receive a better income so that their daily struggle is not so hard.”