The majority of apparel workers in Medellín earn a minimum wage that in many cases constitutes the entire family´s source of income. The lack of sufficient funds to satisfy their families’ needs, combined with the poor management of these funds, leads these families to face high-debt, little capacity to acquire housing, education, or a business and a lack of ability to save or generate additional income.
With this in mind, Give To Colombia and Interactuar have been working together for the past eight years in Antioquia, mainly with Levi’s women garment factory workers, providing access to financing of income-generating activities. The program provides financial literacy training, matched savings and support for micro-enterprise development through a program oriented towards creating culture of saving, and at improving participants’ household incomes and quality of life. More specifically, this program seeks to provide these vulnerable families with the necessary tools to acquire assets through financial literacy workshops, a savings program and the promotion of entrepreneurship initiatives.
The impact of this initiative has not only been significant in terms of the empowerment and resilience that beneficiaries have developed, but in terms of the commitment of the participating factories regarding their employees’ well-being, quality of life beyond their immediate job, and the image and perception of Levi Strauss. With this project, Levi Strauss has dramatically changed, not only in terms of the conditions of its workers, but that of the entire apparel industry of Medellín, creating healthy employees that can shift to other industries and areas when production levels are low or can count on income earned from having their own microbusinesses.