Hearts of Gold and WPI University Students Develop Business Plan to Help Impoverished Women

Hearts of Gold and four college students from WPI Univesrity in Boston, USA are developing a plan to assist impoverished women of Azuay Province by creating a micro business that takes advantage of the area’s natural resources.

The project seeks to create high end fashion products that could be sold locally or abroad so women can generate a much larger profit for themselves than by crafting cheap items for local sale. The goal is to alleviate poverty through small business creation.

Students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, who are fulfilling partial requirements for their bachelor degree, have been researching aspects of the project in the Cuenca area since December. Hearts of Gold staff members are providing supervision and sponsorship.

“Hearts of Gold Foundation is on a mission to provide support to marginalized and underprivileged populations in the Cuenca area,” said Natasha Verkley, the foundation’s Executive Director. “We aim to address the main issue of poverty by supporting local partner organizations that work directly with Ecuadorians. Essentially the foundation helps others help themselves.”

The students documented their research findings and presented them to Hearts of Gold and Cuencano community on March 2 at the Inaugural Presentation of WPI Research Projects hosted at the Galeria de Miguel Illescas. The paper includes micro business case studies and history, market trends and resources, an outline on obtaining raw materials, manufacturing and getting goods to market, as well as possible funding sources.

Verkley said the next steps for the long-term project include reviewing the research, determining the interest of partners and establishing funding. “This will not happen overnight, but we are encouraged that it will happen,” she said.

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