Community Market of Bataan
Project Launch: 3-6-14
In 2013, a social development study indicated that inhabitants of Bataan, Costa Rica experience low economic levels, minimal citizen participation, and weak health and education services. To combat this issue, a female-led credit union in Bataan (EC Bataan) are collaborating with an active women's group named AMARBA and the National Council of Produce (NCP) to launch a community market, where women will sell excess produce and homemade products from their gardens or small family farms. With the support of World Connect, the collaboration demonstrates that the community is dedicated to its long-term development.
The goal of this project is to boost women's household income while also giving them market experience. With such experience, women will be trained in vending, customer service, hygiene involved with food handling, money management, leadership, hydroponic gardening, and healthy eating. Women will also have the opportunity to sell the excess produce from their gardens in the market instead of throwing it out or giving it away without profit. Also, women who are consistently participating in the community market will be able to earn benefits from EC Bataan, enabling them to receive larger loans from the credit union.
The women have attended trainings on healthy eating to prevent illness, trash management, recycling, accounting, investing, computerizing inventory, and profit. They have also forged strong connections with the community’s economic development council, a rural tourism group that is planning to showcase their project to bring more tourists to Bataan, and a local technical school that is offering them storage space.
Nine participants completed the hygiene and safety training for the processing of high-risk foods and four others received certificates in basic food handling and hygiene. The market is centered out of the office, allowing flexibility with both operationial hours and diversity of products sold. All members are required to sell products at the market. Some sell fruit, marmalade, salsas, baked goods, prepared meals, herbs, plants, and spices, whereas others sell jewelry and clothing. The women also create and share recipes.
This project caught the attention of some of World Connect’s youngest members who participate in the organization’s Kids Connect program, which promotes global citizenship and global service. At Clarksburg High School in Maryland, the Kids Connect Club raised hundreds of dollars for this project by hosting local bake sales and raising awareness among their peers about the importance of women’s unions and women empowerment.
“We have been working hard to organize this market. It is not easy because some people want to earn the money but do not want to put in work. The workshops that we have been receiving have helped to make a solid group of reliable vendors. I’ve learned how to grow tomatoes and cabbage in half the space and I can go and confer with my colleagues when I forget a step and I know someone will be able help. I don’t feel like I am alone, we are all doing something to help.” – Sugey Siezar R, Project Beneficiary
“Many years ago we had a farmer’s market in Bataan, it was all rich farmers from far away with lots of land who sold very expensive products. The poor people could not afford it and the market failed. Now we will run the market, we have decided to only allow locally grown products from farmers we know who live here, they are our neighbors who we trust.” – Marta Alvarado, Project Beneficiary