FIDESMA is the Fundación Integral de Desarrollo Sostenible y Medio Ambiente, Foundation for Sustainable Development and the Environment. With headquarters in San Andres de Iztapa, Chimaltenango, Guatemala, FIDESMA was founded in 1998 and has five major programs: agricultural micro-credit, natural medicine, job skills and training, bicycles and environmental conservation, and health and special education for people with physical disabilities.
FIDESMA was started when Margarita Caté de Catú, the current president of FIDESMA, wanted to organize against the problems facing her community. Ms. Caté de Catú and 150 other women struggled to create the foundation with financial support from the Leadership Council.
This non-profit organization is non-political and non-religious and therefore the majority of our financial assistance comes from other non-profit organizations. Our primary role in Guatemala lies in development. FIDESMA helps the community become more self-sustainable and for this reason we distribute financial assistance (in our micro-credit program) and show the community prospective job opportunities. We hope that they will then be able to have their own business, thereby contributing to the rest of the Guatemalan economy.
FIDESMA is one of fifteen organizations apart of FEDENMURG (la Federación de Mujeres Rurales de Guatemala), a national, democratic association that promotes social development. The women members fight for the rights of rural women throughout Guatemala, along with bringing awareness to the preservation of the environment.
The FIDESMA sewing course teaches women over a year how to make all types of clothing. Lourdes Santiso Salizar was one of the first graduates of the sewing course in 1999 and now has her own women’s clothing business specializing in wedding gowns. Click here to see a report on Lourdes from the Fall 2006 InGear newsletter.
FIDESMA’s natural products courses teach local women how to use natural plants to make shampoo and soap to sell in the local market. Grupo Mujeres Integrados en Accion has 10 members that work weekly to make aloe shampoo and soap. Ana Maria Guch is one member who is a widow with 8 children who supports her family from the sale of their natural products. Click here to read more about the shampoo production process.
The Mujeres Maya (Mayan Women) Kaqchiqoel from Santa Caterina Barahona received a micro-loan from FIDESMA 5 years ago to start their traditional weaving business. Click here to read a 2006 InGear article about the Mujeres Maya. Click here to read more and see samples of their work.
Jorge Luis of San Andres de Iztapa uses his bicycle from FIDESMA to sell ice cream in the outlying villages. He averages about 20km everday on his bicycle riding from 5am to 5pm. He is able to support his wife and 7 children from the money he makes selling ice cream. Click here to see more of his story.
P4P’s 100,000th bicycle went to FIDESMA! Click here to read more about the bike, its journey, and Mateo Patzan, the happy recipient.