Youth HUB Fellows: Linda Sanchez

Linda - Fuerza Indigena Linda - Fuerza Indigena

My name is Linda Sanchez, a zapotec from Oaxaca, Mexico. I grew up in Orange County but moved to the Bay in order to attend UC Berkeley where I receive my BA degree last May. I also work full time with the American Friends Service Committee serving Oakland and San Francisco youth.

Alejandra, 15, is an indigenous Mam from Guatemala currently attending high school and interning with 67 SueƱos. She embodies the reason why I am passionate to create Fuerza Indigena and with her vision and support, we are making it a reality.

Fuerza Indigena is an indigenous woman-run social enterprise based in Oakland, CA. Our vision is to create a community where all women have the resources and tools to reach financial independence, be empowered, and live happy and healthy lives. Our mission is to create sustainable alternative employment opportunities for low-income indigenous women by enabling them to use their already known artisan skills to generate income. We hope to do this by providing culturally appropriate mentorship, high quality entrepreneurial training, and access to resources and a market platform to create and sell indigenous blouses.

Our motivation to create Fuerza Indigena sparked from our lived experiences growing up indigenous in California. Due to language barriers, among others, and generally low paying jobs in low-income communities, indigenous woman face an even more difficult time finding well paying jobs to sustain their families. This motivated us to crate local jobs for indigenous woman. The reason we chose indigenous blouses as the focus product comes after witnessing the languacide and indigenous invisibility that takes place in the U.S., especially for indigenous people from Latin America. We hope that by selling indigenous blouses made directly by the woman, we can spark conversations about the vast diversity of indigenous cultures and bring visibility to the different indigenous communities in Oakland.

Our mail goal is to create a steady stream of revenue for indigenous woman through selling culturally appropriate eco-friendly indigenous blouses made from sustainable materials. We will be successful if we create a reciprocal relationship in which indigenous woman find healing and empowerment through making and selling their blouses and in which the consumer finds knowledge and a deeper appreciation and respect for indigenous culture through the relationship of buying a blouse from a woman. Our goal is to combat cultural appropriation of indigenous culture and the continued invisibility of indigenous people in the U.S.

In order to ensure women learn from one another and give them autonomy in the enterprise, we are looking for indigenous Guatemalans eager to transform the community and economy around them. More specifically, we wish to put two indigenous women through school by paying their tuition fees so that they may get more formal training on how to create apparel. Our goal is that they will mentor and help the first cohort of entrepreneurs to launch their first blouse line. We are also seeking mentors who have knowledge in this area and may give workshops on how to create blouses from scratch.

Our major challenge is finding women who believe they can be agents of change. Please help us achieve this by connecting us with organizations serving low-income woman who may be interested in Fuerza Indigena. We also ask that you take a few minutes to take our survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CMZS9MQ to better understand what people look for when purchasing indigenous blouses.

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