“Our success proves that a sustainable business can be driven by a social vision: provide well-paying jobs with low-cost childcare, invest in employee training and development, and advocate for social change.”
-Susan Matteucci, Executive Director
Since our inception in 1994, Southwest Creations has pushed the boundaries of both the social enterprise model and the nonprofit model of foundation-funded social change.
Southwest Creations’ pursues a three-pronged strategy to alleviate poverty and build economic opportunity across generations:
- Invest in women who in turn invest in their families. Worldwide, studies and experience have shown that when a woman is given the opportunity to earn income, she will spend it on her children and family first.
- Provide financial stability through well paying jobs. Financial stability gives a woman and her family the ability to pursue new skills, educational goals, and employment opportunities.
- Provide an infrastructure of employee programs that teach essential skills, increase employability, and promote community engagement, helping women become leaders in their families and communities.
While working with the Women’s Self-Employment Project in Chicago in 1988, Matteucci organized the Full Circle Fund, a microlending initiative launched in partnership with Muhammed Yunus of the Grameen Bank. Although women participating in the Fund gained a powerful sense of community, very few became successful entrepreneurs. Most who participated were unable to generate sufficient income because they adequate access to markets. Matteucci began to look beyond the microlending model as a strategy for ending poverty in the US.
After moving to New Mexico in 1992, Matteucci continued to work on economic development projects for low-income women. Instead of a small business loan, she observed, most women needed a steady job that paid enough to support a family and helped them acquire new skills. In 1994 Matteucci partnered with Sister Bernice Garcia of Albuquerque’s San Jose Parish, to organize a sewing and handwork project for low-income immigrant women. Southwest Creations Collaborative was formed soon after and has since become an important part of New Mexico’s manufacturing sector. In 18 years, annual revenues have grown from $30,000 to $1.5 million and we have created over 100 jobs.