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Posted by Future Without Poverty On October - 10 - 2010 0 Comment

Board member Stan Ingman visits Oaxaca, Mexico to explore micro finance projects.

News from Oaxaca and our visit to Duane Gustavus who has settled in Oaxaca.

My wife Veronique , Brett and Donna( my sister) Johnson and I visited Oaxaca from 15th to 22nd of June. Duane had set up two major trips.

First, we all visited Fundacion En Via (http://www.envia.org) in Teotitlan del Valle, some 20 minutes east of Oaxaca. This traditional village is known for its rug weaving. Rugs are shipped all around the world. Tourists pay $50 per person to take a trip and visit two competing groups applying for a loan. Tourists, like us, decide which group will receives the interest free loan. Both groups had already received their first loan and they were trying to secure a second loan. There were five in our party, so the loan was for $250.

We met six women in two groups and listened to them present their business plans. Group I was involved in making oversized tortillas and oversized pancake-like sweet tortillas. Group II was involved in weaving bags, selling corn on the cob and also, buying aprons and cloth for dresses wholesale and then selling retail. We voted 4-1 to give the loan to Group II. If a group is not selected after three tries, the organization typically gives them a loan. They collect payment back about every week from those that have loans and keep some 10% for expenses. The Fundacion En Via is operated by two staff working at the Instituto Cultural – a language and cultural learning center, in Oaxaca.

Second, Brett and I went to the Zapotec village of Capulalpam de Méndez

( 3000+ inhabitants) some two hours north of Oaxaca at 6,500 feet in the Sierras. This mountain village has trout farms, and offers trout fishing and horseback riding. We visited a traditional medical treatment center near the regular medical clinic. They seem to cooperate in taking care of families in the region. The State of Oaxaca is building a new facility for traditional medicine treatment and research in Capulalpam de Méndez. The building is a wonderful project- a green or low ecological footprint facility. A solar water heating system and solar electric panels are to be installed on the roof. All waste water is treated before it goes back into the eco-system.

Both Teotitlan del Valle and Capulalpam de Méndez operate under Zapotec governance customs- or – under local native law. All citizens must serve the village each year in some way. The mayor and city council serve with no salary as I understand the system. For instance someone may be responsible for keeping fresh flowers in the church. Few taxes than in a typical Mexican village are collected from the residents. More research is needed to understand this great example of citizen empowerment and involvement.

( See Stephen, Zapotec Women: Gender, Class and Ethnicity in Globalized Oaxaca, 2005)

From Stan Ingman

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