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This grant will support a network of women-owned businesses called "The Network of Women Entrepreneurs of Sustainable Tourism in Turrialba" (RETUS) in rural communities around Turrialba, Costa Rica by refurbishing a community center house, providing them with transportation and developing leadership and business training workshops.
Turrialba is the home of the CATIE Research and Higher Education Center. On the campus is a historical building called The Sustainability House. This house is the heart of and central location for meetings and workshops that supports the rural women's enterprises. Built in 1942, the house needs refurbishing.
Rotary volunteers from District's 5790 and 4240, and contractors vetted and authorized to do work on the CATIE campus will refurbish the Sustainability House. Because this house is already a focal point for the community, the potential impact for long-term successful, sustainable commerce for the women is limitless.
CATIE partners and shares faculty with the University of North Texas in Denton, TX. Graduate students from UNT study at CATIE through the Masters in Sustainable Tourism (MIST) program. MIST graduates share their knowledge of experiential/environmental tourism throughout Central and South America and locally, in the Turrialba area. In fact, one MIST graduate is a local Rotarian and on the committee for this grant.
The Network of Women Entrepreneurs of Sustainable Tourism in Turrialba (RETUS) will collaborate with CATIE to develop a youth leadership education program for Turrialba's 200+ children that focuses on fostering eco-healthy practices, teaching them to be good environmental stewards of their country and in time support the next generation of women owned enterprises and leaders.
The Network of Women Entrepreneurs of Sustainable Tourism in Turrialba (RETUS) is currently asking for support:
1. To develop an ecotourism business. This business will conduct tours throughout the area to communities and women owned businesses. The entire community will benefit from money raised from tour packages. Expanding to additional or new services/products to be offered by RETUS as they enroll and train more young women in the community who seek employment.
2. For business skills training and micro-finance support to Costa Rica's rural women-owned enterprises in areas of eco-tourism, sustainable farming, and agro/aquaculture.
3. For assistance to develop school-linked (field trip) community programs and train Turrialba's teachers to educate students on poverty reduction and rural sustainable living.
4. Funding to facilitate the creation and expansion of community aquaponic gardens that use local fish to provide both nutrients to the garden and a fish industry for the women of the community.
5. Purchase of a previously owned minivan to:
a) Transport the eco-tour groups around the community to visit the women owned enterprises.
b) Transport the women to their office on the CATIE campus for training, workshops and community events that will be held there.
c) For transportation of elementary and middle school students in the area to the CATIE campus for programs and field trips that educate them on best environmental practices and sustainable farming.
Note: Currently, when transportation is required, the community must rent a mini-bus.
a) Create gardening awareness through education programs at schools and in community
b) Test new vegetable and food varieties from year to year.
c) Meet the increasing demand for nutritious and fresh food.
d) Sales of seeds, plants, food and fish will create countless economic development,
micro, and social economic opportunities.
Estimated timeline is July 1, 2018, through June 15, 2019, with a minimum three-year, follow up and inspections.
HOW CLUB MEMBERS WILL BE INVOLVED
1. Team members will require a minimum of three years participation in the team.
2. Rotarians will volunteer their time and expertise to refurbish the Sustainability
House on the CATIE campus.
3. Rotarian volunteers will design a series of Business, Marketing and Social Media
training materials for the RETUS women. The materials will be in Spanish and English and
may include some ESL training modules.
4. Rotarian volunteers will conduct a series of no less than 8 workshops for the women
entrepreneurs to insure they have the tools and skills to launch the ecotourism
5. Rotarians and Rotaractors from the University of North Texas (some who are graduates
of the MIST program) will mentor the women for 2 years to support the implementation
phase as well as offering guidance as the business expands.
6. It is expected that within three years,RETUS will become an income generating
enterprise and the community will have a well established ecotourism offering.
7. Through RETUS's partnership with CATIE, the Sustainable House will become an "Eco-
Hostel" and central location for all ecotourism activities and environmental
sustainability education programs in the Turrialba community.
Role of the International Rotarians:
1. International Sponsor Club will monitor the progress through emails to the Host Club
and CATIE campus advisers to the Women's Entrepreneurial Network.
2. International Sponsor Club will visit the project sites at least once in a year to
support the project and address any needs the host club may identify.
3. International Sponsor Club will work with the Host club to collectively monitor all
activities, making sure to stay within budget and hosting annual audits.
4. Rotary Club of Denton, along with other clubs in District 5790 and across the US,
including ESRAG, will support this grant. Rotarians, members of Rotaract, Interact and
volunteers from UNT will participate to this project's completion.