Pixan: Direct Female Empowerment

Of everything that AMA does, the impact of our work on indigenous Guatemalan women is perhaps most evident through the Pixan project. Pixan is special in the regard that it provides women across the highlands of Quetzaltenango with an opportunity to create and sell artisanal goods directly to clients around the world. AMA receives an online order, the women create the product, AMA facilitates the exchange, and the women reap the direct financial benefit. Over the past two decades, Pixan has directly facilitated the sustainable financial empowerment of more than 150 women in more than a dozen indigenous Guatemalan communities. Pixan woman have historically used their boost in income to improve the lives of their families and explore recreational interests.

“We are working to facilitate a program that directly results in more food on the table or new clothes for children,” said Paola Tzep, the Sales Coordinator for the Pixan project. “I love my work because I am empowering woman in highland communities exactly like my own.”The initiation of Pixan dates back 20 years, and the project has since become one of AMA’s most reliable mainstays. However, the Pixan business wasn’t always as well defined as it is now. Pixan artisanal goods were first sold by HSP and AMA founders Ben and Guadalupe Blevins on East Coast streets and university campuses. As the years passed the story behind the artisanal scarfs and bags began to spread, and Pixan gradually developed a following. “We have greatly improved the capacity of Pixan over the years,” said Guadalupe Blevins. “I believe that our clients, especially the women, can see themselves reflected in our story. We’re selling a product that can resonate with humans from all around the world.” Pixan products are currently sold via the online Pixan store, and from the AlterNatives store in Richmond, VA. As I write, Pixan employees within five different indigenous communities are working to weave 37 elaborate tablecloths. Each weaving will take 15 days to finalize, and the order will be ready to ship to clients in England within the month. According to Tzep, each weaving is worth 355 quetzals, and every penny of that money will go directly into the pockets of the women who are making them. As far as financial impact on indigenous women is concerned, well, it doesn’t get more direct than that.

Laura Catania