Make a Donation




From Day Laborers to Aquaculturists

El Tabacal is a relatively young community that, when founded, had 48 indigenous families severely affected by the 4-year Guatemalan Civil War. These families had been displaced from their homes and had relocated to El Tabacal after the war.

Families in El Tabacal used to struggle with self-sustainment. People depended on external day laboring jobs for their livelihood. Unfortunately, most residents only earned half of what they needed to survive.

In 2020, we funded a commercial tilapia fish farm for eight partner families. We built five ponds and equipped the farm with aeration devices, seine reels, and handling equipment. We started the project with 25,000 tilapias and added 17,500 tilapias in 2021 to meet the high demand for the product.

We helped advertise their aquaculture business and developed distribution channels:

  • Sale of live fish to regional retailers
  • Delivery of fresh fish in coolers to wholesalers with access to global markets
  • Direct from the farm and local markets

We reinvested the proceeds from the sale of tilapia in the eight partner families, plus daily wages were extended to community workers. As the business grew, more families joined as wholesale and retail employees in 2021.


The Impact on the Local Community

As a result of the aquaculture project, residents benefitted in the following ways:

  • A reconversion from day labor into professional aquaculturists and business owners that places them on a path of self-reliance and economic stability
  • Improved access to clean water and sanitation — essential for raising tilapia
  • Improved food security and nutrition from the availability of fresh tilapia reduces the risk of malnutrition and other health problems
  • Job creation in El Tabacal provides sustainable incomes for the entire community outside of the first eight families involved in the project
  • The strengthening of a vibrant community through project participation

The Impact on Poverty

The project demionstrates the efficacy of the micro-enterprise business development model as a tool to alleviate poverty.

We achieved the following results:

  • We provided a high-yield replacement activity in a place where traditional low-yield crops do not provide a living wage
  • We developed access to regional and national markets to address the issue of insufficient demand in local rural communities
  • We assisted with the introduction of a new high-quality product that Guatemalans can afford without displacing other businesses or causing more inflation
  • The project prevented more rural-to-urban migration


I'm Juan Ruíz Castro, and I've spent my entire life in El Tabacal. I can't express enough how grateful we are for this project. It's changed our lives in ways I never thought possible.

My family and I handle technical support and oversee the maintenance of the ponds. I am also responsible for quality assurance and I am proud to deliver a clean fresh product that we’re now famous for.

Juan Ruiz Castro, El Tabacal

Help Us Invest in More Communities
Start a Fundraiser

You can help us alleviate poverty in another rural community by starting a fundraiser campaign. The proceeds of your campaign will be used to finance a similar micro-enterprise project in Guatemala. Click the link below to learn how you can build a micro site and invite your friends to donate.

Take Action Now

Fundriase for Guatemala