Empowering women in Guatemala

Case study

Hundreds of women in Guatemala are employed to weave petate, which adorn bottles of Zacapa rum. Meanwhile, we’re working with the Seven Bar Foundation to support female entrepreneurs.

Each bottle of Ron Zacapa Centenario is wrapped with a ‘petate’, a band hand-woven from dried palm leaves by women from Guatemalan communities. Local women have been weaving the petate since the creation of Zacapa in 1976. Today, the craft gives women a constant income and the assurance of a better future.

There are over 900 women involved in petate weaving. By adding the petate band to the bottle, Zacapa has created a market for the work. A full-time weaver can produce 40-50 bands per day, worth more than double the regular income for these communities, and the economic impact is significant. Children can go to school and even university. In Jocotán in 2002-2003 there were only 200 children going to school; by 2012 there were 583.

Women weaving in Guatemala

The brand’s collaboration with the Seven Bar Foundation – an external foundation which aims to empower women via microfinance – means that a fund of $100,000 (about £63,000) will be distributed between up to 200 female entrepreneurs in Guatemala. Co-operatives of the women of Santa Cruz in El Quiche who make ‘guipiles’ will be the initial recipients of the loans with other communities and co-operatives to receive funding in the future. Guipiles are traditional tunics worn by the women of Central America, woven with the same ancient skills as the petate band.