The non‐profit organization, Manos de Madres ("Hands of Mothers"), was founded in 2007 by Susan Moinester and her daughters Arielle and Margot. Manos de Madres is dedicated to building pathways out of poverty by empowering women through craft‐based initiatives founded on the principles of cooperation, creativity and sustainability.

The vision of Manos de Madres began in Honduras in 2003 with the work of Arielle Moinester and the coffee cooperative COFEACOMA. In a joint effort, Arielle and COFEACOMA developed a women's income generation project to help alleviate poverty, reduce the communities' environmental degradation and improve their respiratory health by repurposing trash into crafts as an alternative to burning it. The project also seeks to empower women through multilevel training and education. In 2007 – having grown from 3 women to 80 ‐ the producers undertook a bold move and broke away from the male‐dominated COFEACOMA and formed two independent cooperatives in order to have control of their finances. Located in the remote mountain communities of Matazano and Rio Negro, these cooperatives have flourished as they collaborate to achieve their shared goals. Now in its seventh year, the Trash Bags Initiative has become a model for the transformative power of well‐run women craft cooperatives. The producers’ income has been used to provide education to their children, improve family nutrition, sanitation and health, purchase farmland and develop other small businesses.

Margot Moinester expanded the reach of Manos de Madres in the summers of 2007 and 2008 during her work with WE‐ACTx (Women's Equity in Access to Care and Treatment). WE‐ACTx, a community‐ based initiative headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda, is dedicated to treating women infected with HIV/AIDS, many of whom are survivors of genocidal rape and sexual violence. In 2006, WE‐ACTx started a sewing collective comprised of 25 women to help generate vitally needed income and provide a system of psychosocial support. The women entitled their collective, INEZA – “lending a hand to those most vulnerable.” Margot's collaboration with INEZA has resulted in a contemporary line of handbags and personal accessories geared towards the international market and supported and sold through Manos de Madres.

The TRASH BAGS of Honduras Initiative and our commitment to the INEZA collective formed the foundation upon which Manos de Madres was created. We realized that while the need is enormous, so is the potential for even small organizations like ours to make a difference in the lives of women and the future of their children. Although we do not employ one particular model for income generation and capacity-building, Fair Trade practices are the cornerstone and starting point for all products that we develop and market, and we are a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation. Another central concept is non-profit status, as all income from the sales of products and all donations are reinvested directly into the artisans through our initiatives, projects and partnerships. We thank you for your interest in Manos de Madres, for reading “Our Story” and hope that you will support the extraordinary women with whom we have the honor to work.

INITIATIVES AND PRODUCTS

INEZA Ejo Hazaza Solidarite Shwe Shwe Trash Bags
Initiatives Initiatives Initiatives Initiatives Initiatives
Rwanda
Personal & Home Textile Accessories
Rwanda
Vibrant Fabric Jewelry
Rwanda
Woven Baskets & Jewelry
South Africa
Enchanting Fabric Dolls
Honduras
Accessories Crafted from Trash
Fair Trade Federation   Tified SSL
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