Post prison single mother who works in Serigrafia de la Gringa.
Serigrafia de la Gringa
Since 2008 my business Serigrafia de la Gringa had been operating in prisons in Guatemala providing dignified employment to incarcerated people. However, by 2021 the corrupt authorities of Guatemala had finally forced my social entrepreneurship out of prisons after my continued refusal to pay illegal commissions. Many incarcerated women who had worked honestly and whose families benefited financially and emotionally for many years were forced out of jobs. Many of the clients we had earned over the years were at risk of taking their business elsewhere. I felt like my life’s work of second opportunities had been destroyed. It was a devastating blow to me both professionally and personally.
In August of that same year I flew to Mexico to meet with close friends who also work in prison rehabilitation, Saskia Niño de Rivera and Daniela Ancira. They encouraged me during this difficult time and suggested starting my work again at least temporarily outside of prison for the benefit of formerly incarcerated people. They are a group who are also highly discriminated against for job opportunities. It sounded like a good option to continue my work of second opportunities, but I had no logistical idea how or the financial resources to recreate Serigrafia de la Gringa outside of prisons. Finding a suitable work site location, hiring and training of new people and the acquisition of suitable equipment literally meant starting over from the ground up.
Providing employment opportunities in prisons in Guatemala is not a profitable enterprise. All work related laws and rights must be adhered to just as they are outside of prison. Because incarcerated people cannot make receipts for the money they earn that is recognized as valid before the IRS, all earnings have a triple tax applied as they are considered net profit for tax purposes. I told my friends about my financial concerns and Saskia mentioned Give it 4ward, an organization she knew that supported social entrepreneurships like mine. She immediately called them and to my surprise not only did they immediately answer but they also showed real interest in helping me start over for the benefit of formerly incarcerated single mothers.
In January of 2022 my business, Serigrafia de la Gringa with the support of Give it 4ward established its first workshop outside of prison for the benefit of formerly incarcerated people, specifically single mothers. Serigrafia de la Gringa, now outside of prison has experienced its best year in sales and profit margins since its founding. In this first year alone a total of 18 people were directly impacted with an honest job, 12 of which are single mothers. Not only did these women benefit with an honest job opportunity, but because of Give it 4ward’s assistance they were able to take part in supporting their own local community, something that was impossible from prison. Each month our women donate to local charities or projects in their neighborhoods or help provide much needed assistance to their neighbors. The women that work for Serigrafia de la Gringa are able to choose who and specifically how they help their local community. This has empowered them so that they too can be a part of helping others in need as they were helped.
Give it 4ward’s support this last year has renewed and energized my hope and life’s purpose. Give it 4ward taught me to dream bigger. I always imagined that a fully social business would be a small business. As I dream bigger now I realize that may not be true. The growth we have experienced this year has helped me realize that not all endings mean the end of the story but the beginning of a new chapter. I feel just as passionate about this next chapter as I did for the last. One year in and this chapter with Give it 4ward is only beginning.
Project with La Cana
We are proud to announce the development of an innovative social entrepreneurship alliance with La Cana in Mexico for post prison single mothers in a halfway house.
Project with Serigrafía la Gringa
We are proud to announce the final phase of an innovative social entrepreneurship alliance with Serigraphia de la Gringa in Guatemala for single mothers after prison.
Project with the Chamber of Commerce in Cartagena
We are proud to announce the development of an innovative social entrepreneurship alliance with the Chamber of Commerce in Cartagena, Colombia for single mothers.
Project with Serigrafía la Gringa
We are proud to announce an innovative alliance with Serigraphia de la Gringa in Guatemala for single mothers after prison.
New alliance with Juanfe foundation
We are proud to announce our new alliance with JUANFE Foundation for two projects simultaneously in Medellin and Cartagena Colombia.
We are proud to announce the funding with Reinserta´s CRAJ program in North America´s largest city (México city).
Reinserta has developed a replicable juvenile post prison program (CRAJ) with a grant from US AID (world´s largest governmental non profit agency).
We are giving hope to former prisoners who were serving food in Colombia´s trendy prison restaurant. now they have their own businesses outside of prison.
We are proud to announce the completion of another 3 party alliance with the Cartagena Chamber of Commerce and Acción Interna foundation for projects outside prison in Cartagena.
Alliance with Corporación Mundial de la Mujer and Acción Interna Foundation
We are proud to announce the completion of our new alliance with Corporación Mundial de la Mujer and Acción Interna foundation for single mothers businesses inside prison and after they leave prison in Bogota.
Acción Interna is a leading innovator in helping people reintegrate into post prison society, as illustrated by their inclusion in a leadership conference with former US president Obama.
Alliance with Cartagena Chamber of Commerce and Sanando Heridas Foundation.
We are proud to announce the completion of our new three party alliance with the Cartagena Chamber of Commerce and Rios de Vida Church Foundation for single mothers in Cartagena.
alliance with cartagena chamber of commerce and acción interna foundation.
We are proud to announce the completion of our 3 party alliance with the Cartagena Chamber of Commerce and Acción Interna foundation.
alliance with the cartagena chamber of commerce
We are proud to announce the completion of our alliance with the Cartagena Chamber of Commerce which is part of the city’s governmental structure for its 1.7 million residents.
Alliance with ACD & ARGOS
We are also proud to announce the completion of our first 3 party alliance with Argos and ACD. Argos is an international company with operations in North and South America and was given an award for its sustainable operational practices. ACD is a leader in forging ventures for social benefit.
Alliance with Juanfe Foundation
We are proud to announce the completion of our alliance with the Juan Felipe Foundation. This is the largest women’s foundation in Colombia and it has provided invaluable assistance to over 500,000 mothers in multiple ways from medical care to teaching them the requisite skills to enter the workforce.
Maira Genes Shoemaker entrepreneur
“The scars of the past will not bring down my present”: a victim of the conflict.
Those are the words of Mayra Geles, who is taking part in the Regional Fair of Entrepreneurial Ventures of Victims of the Armed Conflict that has come to Cartagena with crafts and dreams to fulfill. As time goes by, Mayra Geles Márquez is healing the scars left by living in the midst of armed conflict. Those tough times date back to 2011, when, displaced by violence, she fled from San Pablo, a town in the south of Bolívar where she had everything: happiness, work, and a life ahead with her only daughter.
“I lost my job due to the conflict, and because of all the worries, the stress and physical exhaustion, everything was more complicated for me, to start over and move forward amidst sadness and agony. That was eight years ago (…) I was alone, the head of the household, I left without clothes, and left my daughter at my parents’ house and it was two years before I could go for her.
“I have suffered because when I was displaced I was without work and away from my loved ones, knowing that I had to bury that past in San Pablo,” she said.
Today, eight years later, the outlook is different, but this time full of hopeful traces that emanate from Maríalabaja, where she consolidated her microenterprise of shoe manufacturing.
“I made shoes for myself, but then I saw that it was a beautiful job and I set out to create a company to improve my quality of life. My daughter is at university and I work with this to support the household, because I am the head of the family. I have had the company for eight years and dream that it will grow more and more every day (…) Step by step I have emerged and come out of extreme poverty, but I will never forget everything I had to go through to get here,” she noted.
She, along with 37 other entrepreneurial survivors of a gray era, exhibited their creations yesterday at the Regional Fair of Entrepreneurial Ventures of Victims of the Armed Conflict, which was held at the Plaza de Los Coches, in the Historic Center.
The event was attended by the Minister of Labor, Alicia Arango Olmos; public servants from the Unit for Victims; the Governor of Bolívar, Dumek Turbay Paz; the Secretary of the Interior of Cartagena, José Carlos Puello, and survivors of the armed conflict.
The best tool During the event, the Minister of Labor maintained that entrepreneurship is a solution for victims and their projects, as it allows them to have independence, improve their standard of living and emotionally shows that they can move forward through their businesses.
“At the Ministry of Labor we are serving four thousand victims. This year’s budget for victims of the Ministry of Labor is 38 billion pesos (…) It makes us very sad not to be able to reach all the victims, but unfortunately the resources have been very tight, but what I do tell you is that the commitment is to cover the largest number of this population and that results are shown, that it is seen that the victim is solving their insolvency,” she said.
Governor Turbay Paz said that this is a multi-handed effort, which they intend to intensify and follow up on. “We have teamed up with the Unit for Victims, with the Department for Social Prosperity, Sena and the victims, where there is pure consolidation. What is required is an initiative that is not only about placing resources but achieving the productive linkages that are needed.
“Today we see products of handicrafts, goldsmithing, textile initiatives, and all this with the support of the Nation and the Department allow the productive units to be successful,” said Turbay.
The director of the Unit for Victims, Ramón Rodríguez Andrade, stated that they have a commitment to the 350 thousand victims in Bolívar, emphasizing that in Cartagena the figure is 100 thousand. “We have been providing support in everything, from prevention issues to individual and collective repair, and now support for entrepreneurship. The important thing is that they can strengthen their productive units with resources coming from the Unit for Victims, from humanitarian aid, such as compensation processes. With this, we intend for them to seek income generation, improvement in their living conditions, and training,” She said.