Aquí me Quedo: Social Enterprise and Resistance

We live in societies that are ever more unjust, especially those of us in Guatemala, one of the world’s most unequal nations.

We can clearly see that the structure that promotes and perpetuates extreme economic, gender, and opportunity inequality survives on the appropriation of democracy by a lobbying aristocracy. Put differenty, it survives because it’s impossible to access political power without the approval of the wealthy.

Oxfam’s new studies on inequality show that when we find ourselves in this situation, it’s almost impossible to pull ourselves out of it without bold political solutions. The state will continue to serve the interests of those who own the most and inequality will continue to grow. Seven in ten people live in countries where inequality has grown over the last 30 years. 85 people are as rich as the bottom 3.5 billion.

Enough with the statistics! We need to act!

First, we have to free ourselves from the stoneage intellectual bondange of the idea that ‘what isn’t capitalism is Communism,’ so that we can propose alternatives to the basis of civilization: how we produce and distribute wealth. We propose to act through the smallest, most humble businesses. To experiment, take on risk, create new models, nourish them with criticism and improvement, enjoy our attempts, inspire entrepreneurial people to adopt a new path of local production with a fundamental commitment to local community improvement.

Our analysis of the economic, education, social, and gender systems that surround us has convinced us that we must create alternative economic models that are as creative as they are sound, whose ultimate goals are to contribute to the public good, and to fund social projects.

We need alternative structures to defeat those that create inequality, but we can’t create new structures without developing a way to finance them and make them sustainable. It’s difficult to be only and always playing the NGO international finance lottery, to be submitted to the policies, perspectives, and interests of the donors. Pragmatically, as non-profit civil society organizations, we continue to chase opportunities for grants and to write proposals. But it is vital to create parallel alternatives for finding funding.

There are new ways to finance our projects, and they come from emerging economic models that prioritize the common good, ecological consciousness, economic transparency, and a new paradigm of competition: the most successful are those who bring the most to their communities.

This is why we created the culinary social enterprise (mmm!) Aquí me Quedo. Aquí me Quedo is a project of the Asociación Payasxs (Clown Association), born of many years of grassroots human rights activism and a desire for a less unequal world.

Ordering from Aquí me Quedo is to push the whole food system in the right direction, because it is also:

To discover artisanal food that seduces your dinner guests through culinary creativity instead of industrial production. We use no hidden ingredients or chemical enhancements.

To eat healthy, without deep-frying or other ploys to trick your senses, and to eat as many organic, whole-grain, fresh and, of course, local ingredients as we can find.

To support a business that wants to be a leader and a model in how it treats its employees, respecting the contribution of every member of the team in their different roles.

To encourage the development of more direct relationships between consumers and local, artisanal, and organic producers.

To promote novel ecological programs like our Plan Verde use of nondisposable items.

To financially support human rights projects that aim to uproot the social structures we don’t want to contribute to by creating alternatives. (Find out more about our projects at www.metoca.org.)

Finally and above all, ordering from Aquí me Quedo is supports a political, social, and economic alternative that is sowing the seeds of systems change, by providing models that others can replicate anywhere.