Part II of Women Empowerment Through Social Entrepreneurship: HII Explores Organizations in Costa Ri

The Human Impacts Institute (HII) has had a packed couple of days here in Costa Rica. From visits to the Earth Charter Secretariat in El Rodeo for indigenous mask-making workshops, to job shadowing at CGESTI and FundeCooperación in Los Yoses, HII has wasted no time exploring this all-encompassing city and brainstorming ways to bring these great experiences back with us to Brooklyn!


On Thursday, HII Executive Director, Tara DePorte, and Program Coordinator, Melissa Mitchell, arrived at the offices ofCGESTI in Los Yoses, San Jose. CGESTI is a sustainable development company focusing in environment as well as management systems in the private sector. Consultant, Andrea Rodríguez shared her experiences and knowledge with HII discussing the background of the organization; it’s mission, and consulting services. Some of their main projects right now include developing tools for sustainable procurement and working on carbon mitigation measures in Costa Rica. Interestingly, Costa Rica’s last President announced to the world that it would be the first carbon neutral country. Now, institutions and NGOs around the country are scrambling to show the world that it can be done. As Andrea had visited NYC in the spring for job shadowing through the program, she was able to learn about HII’s sustainable business programs, as well: Ecopreneurs and environmental consulting. With their visit to CGESTI, Tara and Melissa shared lessons-learned and look forward to sharing resources well into the future.


On Friday, HII arrived bright and early to the Earth Charter Secretariat’s office located on the UPEACE Campus in El Rodeo for a morning workshop. It was part of Alicia Jimenez’s project with the Women’s Empowerment Exchange Program. The purpose of the workshop was to invite peoples of the indigenous Huetares from Quitirrisí, a community near San Jose, to participate in a mask-making workshop hosted by both Earth Charter and ASART. ASART is an Earth Charter partner who focuses on promoting a culture of peace and sustainability through the arts, in marginalized communities. Alicia hoped this workshop would inspire the Huetares women–who make artisanal crafts such as baskets, jewelry, and other authentic pieces as their livelihood–to connect them to different markets for promotion of their goods. Alicia shared ethics of the Earth Charter encouraging the women to think about how their products relate to values of sustainability.


After the workshop, we took the bus back to the neighborhood of Los Yoses to visit Carolina Reyes, New Projects Coordinator at FundeCooperación. It is a sustainable development NGO focused on improving socio-productive, environmental, and gender equality conditions in Costa Rica. They participate in micro-lending programs as well as developing partnership programs to carry out sustainable practices in various countries of the world. For lunch, Carolina took the HII crew to her favorite Costa Rican Restaurant for some traditional Casado.


At HII, we are looking forward to implementing new ideas inspired from the ladies at FundeCooperación, CGESTI, and Earth Charter Secretariat. This experience has been an opportunity not only for us to get to know more about what NGO’s in Costa Rica do but also to reflect on our past, present, and future work at HII.

To finish up the week, Tara and Melissa will be traveling to Sarapiquí for two days of white water rafting and horseback riding in the rainforest. Wish them luck!

By Melissa Mitchell, 2012 Human Impacts Institute Program Coordinator

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