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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 ( 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 together with experts from 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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