Entrepreneurship a way out of poverty in Guatemala
Monday, July 22, 2013
By Laura Baverman
ANTIGUA, Guatemala – Javier Villatoro grew up without a mom and dad in Guatemala City. He dropped out of school in his late teens to learn to cut Guatemalan jade and other precious stones and to work silver with Argentinean jewelers.
He used his earnings to buy drugs, alcohol and snuff. He struggled with thoughts of suicide.
Villatoro didn’t have parents, let alone a community of successful entrepreneurs to teach him about business and build his character. His life changed five years ago when he became a Christian, but only today is he crafting bracelets, necklaces and earrings that will make him a good life.
Villatoro is living in Antigua, Guatemala, alongside a handful of missionaries from the United States, young men and women who are teaching him and others about personal finance, marketing and sales, business ethics, budgeting, accounting and how to price products or services. They’re helping him design pieces that American women would find fashionable, and helping him tell his story through each sale.
His goal today is to set up an Internet store and begin selling his jewelry along with art, clothing and accessories made by others. He hopes to hire young Guatemalans who need direction in life and teach them about entrepreneurship, and to travel the world as a missionary, spreading a message of hope.