This blog post was written by Partners of the Americas Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer Kathleen Preis. Preis volunteered for two weeks on the F2F program in Guatemala, which focuses efforts on two country project strategies: horticulture and rural enterprise development. You can find the original blog post here.
Vision Maya is a grower co-op of approximately 25 members with 12 active members growing Oyster Mushrooms from their homes in Municipality of San Andrés Semetabaj, Guatemala. Each week, the Oyster Mushroom harvest is collected and sold collectively throughout the community of San Andrés. The organization is primarily led by the President of the association, Carmela, and the Vice President, Juan. The group benefits greatly from initial Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers helping to improve their various production operations. The Vision Maya growers have managed to take what they have learned and continue to produce high quality Oyster Mushrooms under variable conditions.
The growers are primarily female heads of household from the neighborhood of La Barranca . They are a close group of friends and enjoy growing mushrooms to contribute to their family’s income. They primarily grow mushrooms out of their homes. Many of their children help their mothers with the harvesting and delivering of mushrooms. Most of the farms are within walking distance of each other and the Vision Maya headquarters adding to bond between the growers.
I arrived in Guatemala with the purpose of helping the Vision Maya group increase their sales through marketing efforts. We began our time together by reviewing the basics of marketing and detailed information on the nutrition and culinary attributes of Oyster mushrooms. We followed each presentation with activities and workshops to encourage confidence in the group when talking about and selling their premium product to customers.
As the sessions continued the group focused more on the development of their brand, packaging and digital presence by drafting logos, slogans and marketing messages to duplicate in sales materials. The group was extremely knowledgeable that the Oyster Mushrooms they were producing were healthy but a review of the factual nutritional benefits gave the group the confidence they needed to more actively share content with customers.
The final day of workshops was spent developing a sales plan and developing tactics to meet sales goals. The group now have the tools needed to facilitate growth and the confidence to pursue additional markets to sell their Oyster Mushrooms to increase sales and profit for their organization and community.
The Vision Maya group is an incredible entrepreneurial organization that I have no doubt will continue to succeed and grow in their business. The women in Vision Maya are proud to provide food and funds for their family and are determined to increase sales of their Oyster Mushrooms. I look forward to learning more of their success in the future.