Crafting Futures: How Las Tias Nurtures Entrepreneurial Spirits Through Vocational Excellence
In Nicaragua, pathways to self-sufficiency are created and supported by Spark’s partner organization: Las Tias. At Las Tias, vocational training and programs provide long-lasting benefits to individuals, families, and communities. The foundational saying of Las Tias- “No al trabajo infantil, ¡si a la education!”- or, “No to child labor, yes to education!”, emphasizes the importance and impact of educational opportunities that invest in individuals. Spearheaded by Candida Mendez, the Executive Director of Las Tias, these vocational training initiatives empower entrepreneurs, reveal job opportunities, and build financial resilience. As a result of these opportunities, new graduates embark on successful careers while maintaining supportive ties to the community at Las Tias.
Candida Mendez is a Co-Founder of Las Tias, which first opened its doors in 1989. Her passion for education led her to begin programs for her community that provided educational programming, nutritious meals, health care, and vocational skills training. With support from Spark Ventures, Las Tias was able to expand and revitalize their vocational training programs. Students enrolled in the Las Tias vocational programs can specialize in a specific vocation and become highly skilled practitioners. Las Tias offers classes in cosmetology, carpentry, baking, piñata making, and sewing. When students are able to demonstrate a high level of mastery in their chosen field, they are officially recognized as graduates of the program.
However, assistance from Las Tias doesn’t end there. Thanks to the Spark community, Las Tias is able to purchase gifts that recognize the dedication of graduates and help to leverage their new skills into income-generating businesses. At the Spark Ventures 2023 Fall Gala, Candida shared that recent woodworking graduates were gifted carpentry tools, and students in the cosmetology program received hair clippers and flat irons.
The vocational skills programs at Las Tias create a cycle of education and financial stability within its community. To Candida, the impact of vocational education has a ripple effect that reaches much wider than a single individual- “In the vocational classes we offer, students learn skills that open up job opportunities and help entrepreneurs start their own businesses. Their income has a huge impact on financial and family sustainability, including a reduction in child labor as parents earn more and send their children to school”. Twenty-five passionate and driven students have joined the growing pool of graduates from the Las Tias vocational skills programming in 2023- congratulations!