CHRONOLOGY

It all began when our founder Maria Pacheco, met some Guatemalan farmers that shared her dream of recovering ecosystems devastated by our country’s conflict and poverty. Together they started to plant trees. In order to make the project sustainable, they began to sell wooden products including toys and home décor. This modest venture was called El Conejo de Sacalá and it has grown to the point where it has benefited more than 6 communities and 2,500 farmers in rural Guatemala. Sacalá wood products are now sold throughout Guatemala.

In 2003, famine was declared in Guatemala. Due to her success in Sacala, Maria was asked to go to Jocotán, a village that was deeply affected by the crisis. There, Maria met a local women, Doña Santa, who was struggling with a sick kid that appeared to be dying. Maria told Doña Santa that she needed to take him to the hospital and Doña Santa answered:
“Maria, I have 4 dollars for the rest of the month. My choice is whether to take this child to the hospital or to feed my other 5 children for the rest of the month.”
And so Maria asked: How can I help you? And Doña Santa answered:
If you can sell what we produce the rest we can do ”
For Maria, this changed everything.

This request became Maria’s motto and the standard for her life’s work. It made her seesaw to turn cycles of poverty into cycles of prosperity. In order to make sustainable change, people needed to have sustainable sources of income. In Jocotán, the skill she observed in the community was its talent for waving dry fibers into baskets. Maria seeing a potential connection, contacted Zacapa, Guatemala’s largest rum company which used a fiber band for decoration on its bottles. She convinced Zacapa to give these artisans the chance to make the fiber bands for Zacapa bottles. It worked! Under her leadership and with a methodology that María developed for business incubations in impoverished communities, these artisans started to sell their fiber products with 100% quality and professionalism. This enterprise has generated over $1.2 million for the artisans of Jocotán in the last 10 years.

This is when, by partnering with Maria’s cousin Queta: wakami was born. We began to create bracelets and handmade jewelry, designed by our product design department (lead by Lis Girón) for sale around the world. Wakami is now a lifestyle brand and a community of dreamers, of people who believe in the power of dreams. We care about the earth, about the people, about art and wellness. We believe in creating sustainable prosperity to lift people out of the trap of poverty. This community is made up of people from more than 20 countries and artisans from more than 20 Guatemalan communities; it is a group of dreamers united by the purpose of bringing prosperity and hope to all of its members.

It all began when our founder Maria Pacheco, met some Guatemalan farmers that shared her dream of recovering ecosystems devastated by our country’s conflict and poverty. Together they started to plant trees. In order to make the project sustainable, they began to sell wooden products including toys and home décor. This modest venture was called El Conejo de Sacalá and it has grown to the point where it has benefited more than 6 communities and 2,500 farmers in rural Guatemala. Sacalá wood products are now sold throughout Guatemala.

In 2003, famine was declared in Guatemala. Due to her success in Sacala, Maria was asked to go to Jocotán, a village that was deeply affected by the crisis. There, Maria met a local women, Doña Santa, who was struggling with a sick kid that appeared to be dying. Maria told Doña Santa that she needed to take him to the hospital and Doña Santa answered: 
“Maria, I have 4 dollars for the rest of the month. My choice is whether to take this child to the hospital or to feed my other 5 children for the rest of the month.”
And so Maria asked: How can I help you? And Doña Santa answered: 
If you can sell what we produce the rest we can do
For Maria, this changed everything. 

This request became Maria’s motto and the standard for her life’s work. It made her seesaw to turn cycles of poverty into cycles of prosperity. In order to make sustainable change, people needed to have sustainable sources of income. In Jocotán, the skill she observed in the community was its talent for waving dry fibers into baskets. Maria seeing a potential connection, contacted Zacapa, Guatemala’s largest rum company which used a fiber band for decoration on its bottles. She convinced Zacapa to give these artisans the chance to make the fiber bands for Zacapa bottles. It worked! Under her leadership and with a methodology that María developed for business incubations in impoverished communities, these artisans started to sell their fiber products with 100% quality and professionalism. This enterprise has generated over $12 millions for the artisans of Jocotán in the last 10 years.

After this project, Maria realized that in order to create more cycles of prosperity for more communities, she needed a product that could be more global. This is when wakami was born and began to create bracelets and handmade jewelry for sale around the world. wakami is now a lifestyle brand and a community of dreamers, of people who believe in the power of dreams. We care about the earth, about the people, about art and wellness. We believe in creating sustainable prosperity to lift people out of the trap of poverty. This community is made up of people from more than 20 countries and artisans from more than 20 Guatemalan communities; it is a group of dreamers united by the purpose of bringing prosperity and hope to all of its members.

Maria has won world-wide recognition for her efforts and her success. In 2007 María received the “Vital Voices Washington Global Economic Development” award and, recently, many more, such as: the 2016 DVF Award from the Diller – von Fustenberg Foundation, as one of the 5 women of the world who create positive change especially for women; the 2015 Stephan Schmidheiny award for Innovation in Latin America; the 2013 INCAE Challenge Award, as one of the new voices of innovation in business education in the region. In 2016, wakami placed third among the 27 best social businesses of the world in the Chivas The Venture competition. In 2017, Maria was honored as one of three recipients of the Goldman Sachs & Fortune Global Women Leaders Award.

Maria has served as a consultant to both private businesses and governmental institutions on the implementation of her Inclusive Business methodology to connect rural communities to global markets. She was a member of the team leading the design of the “Economic Development from the rural areas” 60-million-dollar loan, granted to Guatemala by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank and implemented by the Ministry of Economy.

Maria also partnered with the United Nations Foundation, Chemonics/USAID and other institutions to implement the Inclusive-Business Methodology. In addition, she was the Executive Director of the Chorti Project for the fiber industry and, the Sacalá Project for the wood industry and owner of the CAUQUE organic farms. She co-created the Guatemalan chapter of the Vital Voices Central American Network and she is also part of the Leadership Initiative of the Aspen Insititue.

Maria also partnered with the United Nations Foundation, Chemonics/USAID and other institutions to implement the Inclusive-Business Methodology. In addition, she was the Executive Director of the Chorti Project for the fiber industry and, the Sacalá Project for the wood industry and owner of the CAUQUE organic farms. She co-created the Guatemalan chapter of the Vital Voices Central American Network and she is also part of the Leadership Initiative of the Aspen Insititue.