Ajkem’a Loy’a: Sustainable Business Model for A Maya Women’s Artisan Group


Nick Smith
Eileen Reyes
Aparna Rau
Jessenia Pillasagua
N’deye Niang
David Dorfman

Ajkem’a Loy’a 

The Liderezas Mayas Business and Design project offered students the opportunity to gain an understanding of key concepts and skills essential to become global consultants for small business enterprises focusing on women’s empowerment. This Spring-Summer project specifically involved working with an organized group of Mayan women in Guatemala to develop a sustainable business model, designing and producing handicrafts for a broad market, and developing their business and organizational skills. CARE has been working in the Guatemalan highlands with this group, who have identified their textiles and handicrafts as products that they would like to sell more broadly than their village market.
This was a unique, interdisciplinary Practicum that joined students from the Graduate Program in International Affairs and Parsons The New School for Design. During Spring semester  examined and practiced skills around business, organization building, and product design and development. In summer, students travelled to Guatemala (students pay for air flight – New School pays all other expenses) for the month of June to work directly with the Mayan women in developing a sustainable business enterprise.

Students who were not able to travel to Guatemala were required to submit a research paper to successfully complete the course. Students graduating in May and traveling to Guatemala received an Incomplete, which was to be changed to a grade once the summer trip is successfully completed.