DESMI: Social and Economic Development for Indigenous Mexicans

The women of San Francisco Teopisca with their bakery oven. Photo: Cecilia Monroy

The women of San Francisco Teopisca with their bakery oven. Photo: Cecilia Monroy

DESMI: Social and Economic Development for Indigenous Mexicans

FOUNDED 1969 | IDEX PARTNER SINCE 1992 | www.desmi.org

Social and Economic Development of Indigenous Mexicans (Desarrollo Económico Social de los Mexicanos Indígenas – DESMI) is one of the oldest and most reputable community-based organizations in Chiapas. Through a lens of Solidarity Economics and gender equality, DESMI provides financial, organizational and technical assistance supports to indigenous communities, with an overarching goal of improving the quality of life.

DESMI works in nearly 200 communities and is one of the oldest and most reputable community-based organizations in Chiapas.

DESMI, an IDEX partner since 1992, strengthens local grassroots organizations and provides the skills they need for their economic empowerment. This empowerment comes through building the Solidarity Economy, a framework for sustainable, fair, and inclusive economic growth. The organization provides small loans and training to cooperative groups for income-generating projects including grocery stores, livestock rearing projects, weaving collectives and organic farms.

In addition to training in economic empowerment and women’s rights, DESMI provides workshops on sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and ecological management of livestock. They run more than ten Agroecology Centers that serve as demonstration farms, classrooms and workshops for learning about animal husbandry, organic farming and food sovereignty. In the process, families improve production yields and soil fertility.

DESMI also works with farmers to organize and sell their products collectively at the scale they need to sell their products directly to exporters. They have successfully supported families growing coffee in the region to increase their incomes by connecting them directly to foreign markets.

In its long years of partnership with DESMI, IDEX has seen measurable and sustainable change. The community cooperatives that DESMI supports in Chiapas have developed a robust civil society network. Workshops on agroecology have given indigenous communities the tools to manage natural resources. The revolving fund has succeeded in generating and sharing income in impoverished communities. Women are becoming more visible in collective work and are setting a good example to the next generation, encouraging young women to assume leadership roles.

Read our Partner Narrative on DESMI and then find more about them on our blog.