SPI Builds Futures and Saves Pasts

The Problem

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. We are rapidly losing our heritage sites, often as a result of local people trying to meet their basic needs. The future of the world’s cultural heritage and poor communities are in peril.  Yet, there is the opportunity for them to help each other.

Our Solution

The Sustainable Preservation Initiative creates economic opportunities by giving communities the tools to be self-reliant and use their historic sites responsibly, freeing them to thrive.  We 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 sustainably and help people realize their dreams.

What makes SPI different?

Our Businesses are Sustainable

All our projects are led by the local people themselves and are tailored to their needs and goals.  SPI ensures that the communities we work with have the resources, knowledge, market access and expert guidance to create and then grow their enterprises independently for years, creating foundations for community-focused long-term economic development. These enterprises bring disadvantaged people opportunities which help release their talents. This may be impoverished communities with amazing history, or women within communities who face barriers to their own economic advancement.

Our Participants get Real Skills

All our project members go through the ‘SPI Mini Business School’ to ensure they have the essential skills to run their own businesses, including organization, product design, accountancy, marketing and sales skills. This Business School is now being adopted by other organizations, including the UN, as parts of efforts to benefit communities around the world. SPI is constantly researching our approach, sharing our data and lessons, and working with partners so we can collectively learn.

Our Projects Protect Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage is about people, not stones. We provide the ability for people to meaningful and sustainably benefit from the history around them, preserving it not only for themselves and their children, but for all our collective legacy.

What We've Achieved

SPI has worked in 6 countries, establishing businesses in 17 communities, and protecting their cultural heritage for the long-term. Over 250 people have received training in business skills, 80% of which are women. 8 of our projects are now fully sustainable and providing sustainable incomes to their members. Some of our projects include:

  • 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 four years over $75,000 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!