Wakami designs and sells handmade fashion accessories produced in 16 rural Guatemalan communities, to retailers in 20 countries around the world. Wakami incubates these businesses that are owned by rural women business leaders, which employ over 500 members of their communities. The business leaders begin with little education, resources or support; they start with just the dream of a better life. Wakami gives them the training, resources and support to start their business and then connects their products to international retail markets using the story of their struggles, dreams and successes. This helps us create the Wakami brand and the Wakami Tribe. We aim to enrich the lives of both the artisans who create Wakami products and those who buy them, inspiring them to do what they love most. Through our entrepreneurial driven model, artisans are able to empower themselves to become leaders of change in their communities.
The Wakami methodology allows rural women to start businesses that generate enough income to transform their families and communities. The business incubation is paired with educational resources and access to subsidized products that then allows the women to use that income for better nutrition, education and health for their families. Over 500 women in 16 villages of Guatemala are part of Wakami, and their children have 240% higher school attendance than the national Guatemalan average. Over half of them have improved their nutritional status, while there has been a seven per cent decrease in severe chronic malnutrition, all within just a year.
OUR CHIVAS VENTURE EXPERIENCE
It was a journey that took Wakami and myself as a leader to the next level! It was definitely a course in INTENSIVE ADRENALIN MANAGEMENT! Meeting other people, seeing our companies highlighted in such a beautiful way, getting our teams and our tribes to support us were all part of this journey. The whole experience was exciting and it introduced me to other similarly-minded individuals who also had really important information to share about their back stories and future intentions. I was incredibly proud for Wakami to do so well but not for me personally. I was proud for the people who make our accessories and, obviously, my team. They all work so unbelievably hard and it was a recognition of their achievements.
Our first milestone has been accomplished: Wakami Inc and Wakami Foundation based in the US and our online store, has launched. The challenge now is to drive traffic to the site and optimize the page, but we’re up and running. In march, we will be launching a campaign in alliance with BBDO, to launch Wakami Global with the new branding and communication strategy. Fortunately, the business has grown exponentially - over 550% in the last five years and we now have almost 500 producers - and I like to think that the reason for this is that the people who buy our products understand what we are trying to do. If you buy something from Wakami you know that you are wearing an item on your wrist or around your neck with the hopes and dreams of those who made them.