Analysis of international programs supporting economic development of Maya women in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

  • Osorio Vázquez, María Cristina (Universidad Anáhuac Mayab – Mexico/ University of Twente – The Netherlands)
  • Bressers, Hans (University of Twente)
  • Franco-García, María-Laura (University of Twente)


The micro-business cooperatives formed by indigenous Maya women in the Yucatan Peninsula located in the south of Mexico is an alternative source of income to families that alleviates the social and economic circumstances in which they live. With a high rate of migration to the north of the Peninsula characterized by mass tourism in Cancun and Riviera Maya, and to the United States to cross the border illegally, marginalized classes of society inhabit rural communities: women, children and elderly. To contribute to family income composed by fledgling agricultural production and remittances, these women undertake entrepreneurial activities supported by international organizations as United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) organizations with a strong presence in the Yucatan Peninsula. This research shows that regardless the source of the support the organizational structure in these cooperatives needs to be strengthen and to work with the women involved based in their Maya culture and respect of their ancestral traditions instead of imposing western models susceptible to failure working with indigenous population. This research used qualitative methodology of social research with Social Economy and Contextual Interaction Theory as theoretical framework to investigate how and to what extent these support programs are helpful in practice and what factors contribute or restrict their degree of effectiveness.


This research project was funded by the Nestle Foundation for the Study of Problems of Nutrition in the World.

The authors would like to recognize the work carried out by María Francisca Poot Cahun, Rudy Rubén Chan Tuz and Gilberto Ku Mukul who were Mayan translators to the Spanish language during and after the interviews carried out as part of this research