Resilient Minds Create Powerful Entrepreneurs

CIPE Programming in Guatemala Supports Businesswomen’s Mental Health

Deep in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, CIPE’s Women’s Business Resource Center (known as “Corali”) bursts with energy and color. Within the bustling classrooms and hallways, the air is electric with the animated exchanges of women entrepreneurs and businesswomen collaborating to expand their enterprises. On a rainy October afternoon, five women convened in the center’s vibrantly designed main classroom for a focus group, delving into their experience with Corali’s Mujer Extraordinaria program.

All of Corali’s programs support both emerging women entrepreneurs and established businesswomen to enhance their business acumen, develop soft skills, and foster leadership qualities. However, Mujer Extraordinaria – it means “Extraordinary Woman” in Spanish – goes beyond economic empowerment; it supports women in their emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing. Angela Solop, one of Corali’s participants and focus group contributors, put it this way: “[Mujer Extraordinaria] has taught me that I am strong, I have value, and I can love myself.” Corali is built on the belief that empowerment is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.  Effective women’s empowerment projects, like Corali, require a multi-dimensional approach which encompasses both economic independence and holistic well-being.

In a country where a quarter of women experience gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH), Corali’s Mujer Extraordinaria helps Guatemalan women build the skills and resiliency required to navigate their complex environment. The program includes workshops and conferences with events covering a range of topics, including promoting healthy coping mechanisms, disseminating legal options for GBVH survivors, increasing self-esteem, understanding proper nutrition, and cultivating healthy habits. The topics are selected based on a thorough needs-identification process, ensuring the seminars address the specific priorities expressed by the Corali participants. The workshops and conferences serve as platforms for learning and networking, helping women develop the necessary skills to excel both in their personal lives and in the business world.

In addition to the group workshops, Corali also works with local, pro bono providers to offer psychological support and legal assistance to beneficiaries who self-report instances of abuse or mental health struggles in domestic or workplace environments. Corali directly contracts clinical psychologists and lawyers to ensure that qualified professionals are available to aid beneficiaries, as needed.

Economic empowerment and mental wellbeing are closely linked. When women are financially empowered, they are better equipped to access mental health services and support, and reducing financial stress lowers the risk of mental health issues. Women who are emotionally stable and resilient can navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship and leadership with more confidence. They can make sound decisions, manage stress effectively, and build positive relationships in both their personal and professional lives.

Corali’s Mujer Extraordinaria program exemplifies the importance of supporting women’s mental health alongside their economic empowerment. These programs go beyond traditional economic development initiatives and recognize that success is multidimensional. By addressing both economic independence and holistic well-being, Corali empowers women to become extraordinary in every aspect of their lives. Through these initiatives Corali transforms women’s lives in Guatemala, fostering a generation of strong, confident, and empowered women. “The Mujer Extraordinaria activities have given me the motivation to fight for my dreams,” said Irene Lopez. “And I believe that I can achieve them.”

Published Date: November 22, 2023