Washington — Peace Corps volunteer Dorian Diaz del Castillo of San Diego is working with eight women in his small Costa Rican community to help them develop business skills and generate income from the sale of hand-sewn products.
Diaz del Castillo said creating a new business will boost morale and generate income that goes directly to the women who participate, and it has the potential to create jobs for others in the community as the enterprise grows. He has already helped the women raise money for necessary equipment and business licensing fees.
“The lack of employment opportunities, especially for women in the town, is what makes this project such a priority,” said Diaz del Castillo, a Gonzaga University graduate who has been living and working in Costa Rica since October 2010. “Most jobs in the town are geared towards the farm worker, which has always been male dominated in these rural towns.”
The women came up with the idea for the small business after they participated in a free community sewing class together. Since the first class, they have participated in advanced sewing courses, taken courses dedicated to finance, accounting and marketing, and met weekly with Diaz del Castillo to learn basic computing and business skills. The women have also raised money for the business by selling home-cooked food.
Diaz del Castillo views the women’s group as a further step toward economic development for women in his small rural community. “Helping the group expand will not only help these women achieve their goals but will also prove to a small rural community that hard work does pay off.”
More than 3,370 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Costa Rica since the program was established in 1963. Currently, 128 volunteers serve there. Volunteers work in the areas of youth development, community development, business and English education. They are trained and work in Spanish.