SAQIL GROUP started in 2004 with Kiej de los Bosques, a social company with the objective of generating income to artisans (of which 90% are female). Although these craftsmen have great abilities, they are disconnected from markets, and are not able to live up to their potential. The Wakami Connection is what fills the missing link between artisans and markets, creating an opportunity for self-empowerment.
We believe poverty is a cycle that starts with an unequal distribution of income generated between the rural and urban areas of underdeveloped countries. The disparity of incomes leads to weak rural economies, where education is desirable but not attainable. Lack of education has great incidence in areas of high birth rates and low income. These two conditions combined create homes in which food is limited and education is unobtainable, thus perpetuating what we call the "No Change Cycle." When rural communities are able to connect with urban markets, a new distribution of income is created and rural areas can begin to flourish.
Our experience in working with rural communities dates back to 1993. Our founder, María Pacheco began working with a small group of 10 farmers in Sacalá Las Lomas (in the Guatemalan highlands) and then with over 250 artisans in Jocotán (in the Guatemalan Dry Corridor) when famine struck in 2002. It was there that she realized the cycle can be broken if at least one of the variables is addressed. In both cases, the main objective of our intervention was to increase the income of the beneficiaries… and it ignited development! The income generated by these two production chains, - Wood in Sacalá and Natural fibers in Jocotán – has not only directly impacted nutrition and education among the artisan children; it has also empowered the producers, enabling them to form new businesses. In addition it has given them the ability to save, promoting investment in their communities.
When we saw how this cycle was drastically altered in the communities we were working in, we were able to analyse the markets that generated wealth in these rural initiatives, and decided to take action. In 2006, we created an Umbrella Company/Brand to add fashion and value to handicrafts traditionally made in Guatemala. Since traditional handicrafts were the inspiration of our fashion designs, it made the consolidation of production with several artisan groups run smoothly. Women in rural areas were able to utilize their traditional hand weaving skills to create products that would soon reach local urban markets, and then, the rest of the world! These women had now found an opportunity to empower themselves and their families. Wakami was born!
Two years later, when the number of people involved in the production of Wakami products started growing and our products began selling outside of Guatemala, we realized we needed to specialize in two different dynamics: Business Incubation and Market Penetration. So, in 2008 Communities of the Earth was formed as an NGO with the mission of transforming rural production initiatives into efficient business entities that provide sustained income to its members (www.comunidadesdelatierra.org) and Kiej de los Bosques became a commercial enterprise with the objective of developing and selling products from rural communities through its brand Wakami. Today, both organizations are part of Saqil Group along with Wakami World, a financial platform in the US that permits us to use tools such as Paypal to sell our products.
The mission of Saqil Group is: "To unite Worlds".
"We believe in the power of dreams, as the generator of inspiration and market forces as the source of sustained prosperity."