AVANZAR offers programs which address the socio-economic demands that are left behind by the governmental and private sectors. It focuses particularly on the promotion of social entrepreneurship and the female economy in order to provide women with the means and ways to support themselves and their families.
AVANZAR has created various programs to educate women in order for them to participate in the female economy, gain financial independence and provide for their families. AVANZAR also provides humanitarian programs to support children with illnesses and their families.
Atelier Avanzar creates handmade products of superb quality, vibrant patterns, and timeless design. Each one of their pieces is made with love, dedication, and lots of hope for a better future. All the products are made with highly ethical production standards with the purpose of reaching economic and social performance.
As her Matura thesis, our volunteer Melina Ammann (read her testimonial in the “Volunteer” section of our website) in collaboration with Fundación Avanzar devised a development cooperation project that she describes as follows: “I would like to give the women support that they urgently need. My hope is that the girls and women in Ecuador will someday have the same opportunities and possibilities in their lives as I have here in Switzerland.
The short-term goals of the aid project are to provide support to the young mothers and fathers and to reduce their feelings of being overwhelmed and helpless. The long-term goals are to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexual diseases, and to reduce domestic violence. Another goal is to have more women graduate from school and pursue education to achieve financial independence. Through the workshops, we want to increase the women's self-confidence. They are not alone and should know where to go for help. This is an important step in reducing domestic violence. In addition, violence that is traditionally often still used in parenting must be reduced.
The young parents whose children are patients at the Vicente Corral Moscoso Hospital will be able to participate in the workshops. Isabel Pineda, the director of Fundación Avanzar’s Ludoteca, will advertise the workshops to the young parents and distribute flyers. The parents will then be free to decide whether they want to participate or not. 12 people can participate per course. We will run two courses per week, which will allow about 1,200 workshop participants to benefit in one year."
With the coronavirus spreading across the globe, Ecuador is also under a lockdown to prevent the virus from causing excessive harm. As a consequence, universities had to close their doors and the participants in our courses cannot leave their homes.
Under these circumstances, we decided to take action and continue educating our women entrepreneurs in aspects that could easily be taught using online tools such as Facebook Live or Zoom. In addition to creating online courses in which we taught about marketing platform and programs, we also held discussions and interviews with various professionals to educate the women in issues such as food safety, legal amendments, business strategy, just to name a few.
These online classes were so popular that we decided to continue offering them even in times after corona. They usefully complement our university class offering and allow us to reach female entrepreneurs who live in remote areas and cannot attend courses at university on a regular basis.
Within a few weeks, the world as we know it has changed in ways we could never have imagined even in our worst dreams. The crisis surrounding the novel corona virus affects us all, all over the world and across all areas of the economy and life. And we are all striving to adapt our daily lives in order to deal with the situation in the best possible way.
We at AVANZAR also had to adapt our local projects to the new circumstances. Since Ecuador is one of the countries with the most cases in Latin America, the Ecuadorian government declared a state of emergency and closed the borders already on March 16th. Like almost everywhere else in the world, a total lockdown is intended to prevent the unhindered spread of the virus. For people whose livelihood depends on what they sell every day the current situation is simply desperate.
In normal times, the AVANZAR projects are aimed at providing the participants with practical training so that they can support their families as independent entrepreneurs. At the moment, however, we believe that we must support these women and their families in this crisis in other ways, such as by providing urgently needed food.
For 20 years now, FUNDACION AVANZAR has been active supporting underprivileged women living in precarious conditions in Ecuador. In the video, which can be seen in our MEDIA section, you can see how it all began and where the journey has led until today.
The figures speak for themselves: We have enabled 1,000 women through education to lead a self-determined and dignified life in financial independence. At the Ludoteca in the Hospital Vicente Corral Moscoso, 30,000 children have been treated with therapies and have had a smile put on their faces. 30 volunteers from different countries work on site. 5 NGOs have received financial support. Over the past 20 years, FUNDACION AVANZAR has grown from a small idea to an organization now indispensable in Cuenca and employs 7 people in their administration.
In cooperation with the San Isidro Instituto Superior in Cuenca, we started a new gastronomy course, this time with 25 women. To date, we have been able to offer these courses to 60 women annually. As of this year, we can not only accept more women per class, but we also have three courses in the program instead of just two. Thus, as many as 100 women will benefit from the training and be able to sustain themselves and their families with their small catering businesses.
"It is only possible to advance when one looks far ahead.
One can only make progress by thinking big."
José Ortega y Gasset