SPI Builds Futures and Saves Pasts

Many of the world's poorest people live in and around fantastic cultural heritage - heritage that is important, not just to their own identity and history but to all humanity. Heritage sites today face real danger from a number of threats, many resulting from local economic pressures. The future of the world's poor and the world's cultural heritage are in peril.  Yet, there is the opportunity for them to help each other.

The Sustainable Preservation Initiative creates economic opportunities by giving communities the tools to be self-reliant, leveraging their historic sites responsibly and freeing them to thrive.  Since 2010 we have led efforts to protect, for the long-term, threatened archaeological sites by empowering the people who matter most - those who co-exist daily with these places. SPI creates and develops local entrepreneurs, most often women, and cooperative businesses that utilize cultural heritage assets sustainably.  The training, expert guidance, and support which SPI provides ensures that businesses have the right skills to own and grow their enterprises for many years, creating foundations for community-focused economic development and resulting in the preservation of our collective legacy. 

What we do

  • Provide grants to existing or start-up businesses related to local cultural heritage. We provide training in essential business, organizational and product skills, expert assistance in product design and marketing, crucial infrastructure and equipment, and connect businesses to retail markets for success.
  • Bring disadvantaged people opportunities through leveraging the cultural heritage around them, helping release their talents and realize their dreams. This may be isolated or impoverished communities with amazing history, or women within communities who face barriers to their own economic advancement.
  • Spread the word that the sustainable preservation of cultural heritage is about people, not stones. SPI collaborates with a variety of partners around the world to understand how we can all build futures and save pasts. At SPI we constantly research our approach, and share our data and lessons (good and bad!) with everyone, so that we can collectively learn.

What We've Achieved

  • Our first project, San José de Moro, has produced over $50,000 in local economic impact. SPI investment in local artisans has created 25 permanent jobs, 20 temporary jobs, and spurred the creation of other local businesses. Previously severe looting at the site has ground to a halt and the business is completely sustainable, needing no further funding.
  • At the World Heritage Site of Pachacamac, 23 woman have come together to run their own business.  In the first year, sales revenues of $10,000 were created, the first income many of these women have ever earned.  In the second year revenues increased by over 66% and now after three years over $45,000 in revenue has been generated. This has provided a platform for these women to seek extra education and opportunities for themselves and their families. The site no longer has to call the police to stop threats to the site from local people.
  • In Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala, together with our amazing partners, SPI has established a business selling jewelry inspired by the local Mayan heritage. Within six months of the project beginning local women were earning income and were able to overcome entrenched 'machismo' attitudes.  They have now grown their business to provide themselves with sustainable incomes.

Take a look at our projects for more detail and our lessons. Please considering partnering with SPI or making a donation, and help us build futures and save pasts!