tionship with her original funder
continues. Donna Karan New York
(DKNY) is one of SUR’s top buyers,
along with Ralph Lauren and, most
recently, Pottery Barn. With success
came the April 2008 opening of a
gallery in New York’s Little Italy and
recognition of their social contribu-
dipped in green
tions. In November, SUR was the gold and silver.
small business winner of the U.S.
Secretary of State’s 2008 Award for
The biggest challenge for the
future is economic—not only the
global economic situation but also
teaching the artists about econo-
mies of scale. SUR has ambitious it’ll be thousands.” That would
plans. “Things are changing fast,” be good news for the the artisans
says Echavarría. “Right now we pro- SURevolution works with every day.
vide hundreds of jobs. In ten years, Visit www.surevolution.com
Across the U.S., the Mexican immigrant community
faces countless daily challenges. One of the most
pressing is the lack of access to financial services
and advice. Just half the nation’s Hispanic population has a bank account and less than 10 percent
hold stocks, bonds or mutual funds.
Now, foreign-born workers in New York City have
some additional help. Qualitas of Life Foundation
was established in November 2007 as a bridge
between the unbanked immigrant community and
financial service organizations. The goal of Qualitas
is simple: “We want to have an impact on the life
of immigrants,” explains Qualitas Director Adrián
In East Harlem, New York, Guadalupe and her son, Miguel, play a
board game that teaches budgeting, saving and investment.
Franco—a former educational consultant who was
working with immigrants when he met Qualitas-founder Marcela Rovzar.
Qualitas bucks the trend of community organizations that tend to operate alone. Instead, Qualitas’ educational programs draw on the expertise
available in the world’s financial capital to educate Spanish-speaking immigrants, primarily from
Mexico, so that they can break out of their financial
Participants establish a personal financial goal
and then draw up a detailed plan to achieve it with
the help of professional advisers. Using this as
a guide, they work their way through a series of
classes, all taught in Spanish at locations around
the city. Workshops are held during the day and
free childcare is provided. Nearly 70 percent of the
attendees are women. In the next few months, 170
people will have made it through the basic, intermediate and advanced-level classes.
Success stories include the case of Ramiro
and Augustina Reyes—first-generation Mexican
immigrants. After attending a Qualitas class, they
learned that their 18-year-old son had been a victim
of identity theft and successfuly reversed all erroneous charges. Fighting fraud and victimization is
an important part of the overall mission “to bring
dreams back to immigrant families.”
To learn more about Qualitas’ efforts, visit
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