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The blog post below is an interview ‎with Alana Marsili – a Management and Program Analyst at USAID. Alana ‎works with a small enterprise in Guatemala called Casa Flor Ixcaco, which is comprised of 20 indigenous female artisans. In this blog post, Alana chats with Dimagi about how Casa Flor Ixcaco is using CommCare as part of their day-to-day business operations.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m a 28 year old NY native, living in DC. A combination of the work I did during my Master’s thesis at Georgetown compounded by the professional work I was doing on Open Data led me to Dimagi.

The thesis I wrote posited that mobile applications could forge strengthened relationships between small and medium domestic enterprises and formal institutions in Latin America, effectively creating a new middle class and tax base for the region. I was thrilled to find Dimagi’s CommCare platform because it offered an opportunity to pilot this theory with a small enterprise in Guatemala.

How did you determine there was a technical need for Casa Flor Ixcaco?

Casa Flor Ixcaco, like many small enterprises, lacked access to a tool that could provide smart data analytics to transform business operations, enabling a more sustainable approach to sales.

It takes the women of Casa Flor Ixcaco anywhere from one to four weeks to weave a product that is sold in a market located 3 hours, a 30 minute boat ride, and a hike up the mountainside from Guatemala City. Logistically speaking, the market is isolated, however, tourism and social media have opened the opportunity to create unlikely inroads to the market.

Through the analytics we receive from CommCare in concert with website, Facebook, and Instagram analytics, we are seeking to position Casa Flor Ixcaco in a market where it can maximize earnings from foot traffic and create a virtual network of support and curated market opportunities based on data analytics.

What kind of app did you build for them?

I built a case management application that uses a form that asks 5 key questions to clients at point of sale.

Who will be using the app?

The application is built to be used by the client, while a Casa Flor Ixcaco representative rings up the sale. Due to the nature of their sales, which often come with chaotic tour groups on timelines, the goal will be to capture 50% of sales data a week, and in down time to enter the information regarding sales that were not captured by the application.

Did you find app building to be a challenge? How about training the end users?

The application build was very easy. CommCare’s platform is user friendly and I found it easy to navigate the search functionality whenever I did come across a challenge.

Training was even easier! I explained the application and how it worked to one of the employees, who was able to teach another employee the next day on her own.

What’s the goal?

The goal is to streamline production, style, an type of items in the store through a greater understanding of Casa Flor Ixcaco’s consumer profile; furthermore we hope that this information will allow for them to work in additional market spaces with a clearer proposal to distributors. The data from the various sources should also help the women to move from sustainability to profitability, whereby, they are more active market players in their industry.

Any advice for similar organizations looking to incorporate a data collection tool?

We started by asking ourselves if small changes could make a big difference and then thought about how strengthening analytics at point of sale could do that. Data is only helpful insofar as its designed with an end goal in mind. We knew we had an end goal and we knew we needed data to make evidence based decisions. I think this style of thinking can apply to any organization interested in exploring data collection.

Anything else?

Can’t wait to share the story of how this is working out in a few months! You can follow the story as it is unfolding and support the women by visiting our website: www.woven-gt.com.

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