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United Nations Refugee Agency's Refugee-Led Innovation Fund Winner

Empowering Indigenous Refugee Women - Tackling Period Poverty with Social Enterprises

In the North of Brazil, close to the Venezuelan border, nestled within the struggles and triumphs of indigenous communities, lies a story of resilience, entrepreneurship, and hope. The forced displacement of indigenous Venezuelans to Brazil has brought about immense challenges, including a loss of cultural traditions and heightened vulnerabilities such as food insecurity, period poverty and limited access to education and livelihoods.

Together with Associação Dos Migrantes Indigenas Roraimö (AMIR), we're embarking on a mission to create positive change! 💪

Just like Bridging Gaps, AMIR is a recipient of the 2024 Refugee-led Innovation Fund. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to UNHCR for making this introduction, enabling us to collaborate. 🙏

AMIR is developing livelihoods and income-generating opportunities for Indigenous people through the sustainable use of natural and cultural heritage. One exciting initiative involves the surplus production of agroecology to expand ethnotourism activities in the region.

Together, we're confronting a critical issue: Period Poverty! 

AMIR recently hosted its first social entrepreneurship training session with 12 incredible women from the community. These inspiring women are now starting their own social businesses to combat period poverty with the support of Bridging Gaps microloans.

All businesses share the common goal of ending period poverty, whether through donating a portion of their profits, providing free sanitary products to vulnerable community members, or running awareness campaigns.

It is an honor to introduce the women and their amazing work:

1. Luisa Antonia Rivero, 53

Business: Confecciones Taurepang

Luisa weaves connections between her indigenous heritage and the world. Through her business, she creates beautiful bags and purses adorned with indigenous graphics that can be used to transport and carry menstrual products without being on display, as well as store other important goods, thereby tackling stigma surrounding menstruation.

2. Gineth Carolina Delgado, 22

Business: Moda Indígena Wakao

Gineth's journey from Venezuela to Brazil led her to discover her passion for indigenous artistry. Today, she creates stunning dresses featuring indigenous motifs, infusing each piece with cultural pride. Alongside her fashion creations, Gineth provides reusable menstrual products, ensuring that every woman in her community has access to essential hygiene items. By promoting and providing reusable items, she ensures that women in her community have access to more affordable and sustainable hygiene solutions, reducing the financial burden of purchasing disposable products while fostering cultural pride.

3. Gladys Teresa Hernandez, 42

Business: Artesanato Pemon Pachi

As a refugee migrant, Gladys found solace in crafting beautiful dresses for girls using natural materials with the goal to provide comfortable and beautiful clothing also during the menstruation. By incorporating discreet pockets for carrying menstrual products and using fabrics that minimize leaks and stains, these dresses empower women and girls to manage their periods with dignity and confidence.

4. Endy Rodriguez Rivero, 32

Business: EA Teçidos

Endy is an advocate for women's rights, using her skills in lingerie making to empower women in her community. Her commitment to comfort and sustainability sets her apart in her field. Endy's business includes the provision of reusable menstrual products, ensuring that women have access to hygienic and eco-friendly options. Endy ensures that women have access to hygienic, eco-friendly, and cost-effective options, directly addressing period poverty and promoting long-term menstrual health.

5. Diana Fernandez, 42

Business: Artesanato Tukuy Pachi

Diana's craftsmanship reflects her deep connection to her indigenous roots. Through her artistry, she creates bags and purses that can discreetly carry menstrual supplied, using moriche fiber, preserving traditional techniques. She is supporting not only her family but also wider community through this social business.

6. Sulmye Sulaimy Rodriguez, 33

Business: Costura y Arte Indigena

Sulmye's passion for indigenous arts drives her to create unique garments that celebrate her cultural heritage. With two daughters who depend on her and look up to her, Sulmye’s use of social media to promote her work and raise awareness, educating her audience about menstrual health and advocating for access to menstrual products reflects her adaptability and entrepreneurial spirit.

7. Casilda Rodriguez, 68

Business: Trajes Indígenas Taurepang Pachi

Casilda's expertise in sewing is evident in the beautiful indigenous garments she creates. Her commitment to tradition and quality makes her a beloved member of her community. Casilda also plays a vital role in combating period poverty by providing reusable menstrual products and lingerie, ensuring that women have access to hygienic and sustainable options.

8. Celina Daniels, 59

Business: Confecciones Celimar

Celina's dedication to comfort and sustainability drives her to create cozy sleepwear and reusable adult diapers, providing her community with access to eco-friendly hygiene solutions. Celina ensures that women have affordable, long-lasting alternatives to disposable items, helping to promote sustainable living.

9. Rosangel Marbella Rodriguez, 34

Business: Amai Denna: Costura Creativa

Rosangel's dream of empowering young indigenous women drives her to create kits featuring reusable absorbents. Her commitment to fighting period poverty while valuing her indigenous culture is evident in every product she sells. Amai Denna is an indigenous Taurepang word that means "mother's hands'', in honor of the arts that Rosangel’s grandmother and mother taught her as a child. Her dream is to pass on that knowledge to indigenous girls and young women by giving them a tool so that they too can achieve financial independence.

10. Elvisa Maria Rodriguez, 64

Business: Tejidos y Costura Pemon Kaimi

Did you know that swinging or sleeping in a hammock can reduce stress levels and relax muscles? Elvisa's innovative idea aims to reduce abdominal cramps and help the wider community relax through her meticulously crafted hammocks. Her dedication to learning new techniques not only showcases her adaptability and resilience but also contributes to alleviating period poverty by donating a portion of her profits to provide menstrual products, helping women manage their periods with greater comfort and dignity.

11. Zorangell García, 19

Business: Confección y Arte de las 3 Hermanas

Zorangell's innovative spirit drives her to create eco-friendly sanitary towels. Her commitment to accessibility and affordability makes her a beacon of hope for young indigenous women. Zorangell also plays a vital role in combating period poverty by providing reusable menstrual products, focused on young indigenous women, so these have an affordable source of hygienic and sustainable options.

12. Patricia Borges Gomes, 46

Business: Paty Costura

Patricia's dedication to her family and community is evident in the thoughtful bags she creates. Her innovative design includes special pockets specifically for storing ecological pads, promoting both sustainability and convenience. By providing these eco-friendly storage solutions, Patricia helps women manage their periods discreetly and hygienically, contributing to the fight against period poverty and making her a valued member of her community.

We invite you to continue following the journey of these incredible women, as they advance their social businesses and work towards paying their microloans forward, so more members of the community can benefit and become social entrepreneurs.

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