Blog > Vocational School Artisan Program Income-Generating Programs > Social Entrepreneurship in Action

Friday, November 3, 2017
Social Entrepreneurship in Action
Lauren Erlandson

Written by Isabela Lyrio: Social Entrepreneurship Manager

On September 19th and 20th, the Mayan Families Trade School and Artisan Programs attended the New World Crafts Fair in Antigua Guatemala. New World Crafts is the most important trade show for handmade home decor, gifts and personal accessories in Guatemala and Central America. In NWC, many NGOs and Social Enterprises were represented, selling handmade Guatemalan artisan goods to the foreign market. Both the Artisan and Trade School Programs aim to expand their market in order to continue generating income through the sales of artisan and wood products to provide employment to artisans in Lake Atitlan and to generate income for the Trade School Program.

The Trade School Program received the Rotary International Global Grant by the Upper Arlington Rotary Club in Ohio in 2014, and has since sought ways to become financially sustainable. The Carpentry Shop that operates the Carpentry Trade School also functions as a Social Enterprise generating income to run the sewing, computer and carpentry Trade Schools.

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

The Centre for Social Enterprise defines this term as ‘revenue-generating businesses with a twist’. Social entrepreneurship offers innovative solutions to social, economic and environmental problems. This field blurs the line between the business sector and social impact organizations, making a business’ ultimate goal creating positive social change.

The Mayan Families Carpentry Shop follows this model by hiring graduates from the Mayan Families Carpentry Trade School to make and sell jewelry boxes, cutting boards and furniture. The furniture is often purchased by Mayan Families donors for their sponsored student or family. These sales allow the Trade School to become financially self-sustaining and in turn, advocate for economic empowerment and increased earning potential for its students.

Attending the New World Crafts Fair was an important step towards achieving the program’s goal of financial sustainability. The Trade School Department is in the process of reaching out to external vendors to increase the sales of their specialized wood products. All income generated from these sales is directly reinvested into providing high-quality vocational training to Guatemalans in need. 

Who attends the Trade Schools?



The Mayan Families Trade Schools aim to empower students through the development of a profitable trade, thus increasing their job opportunities. This ability to earn a higher wage is crucial to Mayan Families beneficiaries who have an average of 4 children. As you can see from the infographic, the jobs held by our students traditionally provide a very low income, oftentimes, not enough to support this sized family. Through the skills learnt in the Trade School Program along with financial training, they have the potential to earn a proper income to support their families.

How to Help

By donating tables, chairs and wardrobes to your sponsored student, or purchasing a specialized wood product on our Etsy Page, you are helping hundreds of indigenous Guatemalans develop an important trade to earn new employment opportunities.


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