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MayaBags® Mission and Goals

From Founding to Almost 100 Maya Artisans

MayaBags was founded in 1999 by Judy Bergsma, Jovita Sho and five Maya artisans from different villages in the Maya Mountains of Belize. Today the MayaBags talented team of shareholder/artisans has grown to over 90 Maya artisans.

MayaBags Mission
  • Fostering ancient skills
  • Inspiring personal achievement
  • Building a village economy
  • Teaching financial literacy
  • Celebrating creativity

MayaBags Five Fundamental Goals

How and why we do what we do
1. Fostering ancient skills
  • Embroidery
  • Back-strap looming
  • Basket-coiling from rainforest plant fiber
  • Slate, coconut, and gourd carving
  • Hand-processing fiber and hand making rope from agave
  • Leather processing using a fully-natural and ancient method of curing the hides with eggs, water and bark
  • Leather cutting and stitching
2. Inspiring Personal Achievement
  • Developing quality employment skills
  • Raising Maya women’s self-esteem and giving them an independent voice in their families and communities and in MayaBags as a shareholder
  • Rotating the team leader’s position in each village MayaBags’ team so each team member can experience the role as a leader.
3. Building a village economy
  • Creating jobs where there were none
  • Lifting Maya families up and out of poverty
  • Creating a role model for other entrepreneurial ventures, outside of the norm of slash and burn farming
  • With a larger number of people in the village employed, more cash gets circulated inside the village, helping small stores and vendors with their businesses
4. Teaching Financial Literacy
  • Instructing women how to use the local banking system, which many have never used before
  • Including all the women in the shareholders’ annual meetings and using simple terms, visual analogies and translators to take them through the balance sheets
  • Counseling women individually on how to balance their budgets so that they can send their children to school, keep food on the table and, when applicable, pay their utility bills.
5. Celebrating Creativity
  • Building Maya pride in their traditions and environment
  • Combining designer and artisanal product concepts
  • Balancing vivid and traditional Maya colors with Pantone seasonal colors
  • Executing beautifully detailed construction
  • Employing hand-made to create luxury quality