The U.S. Department of State has named Lina Hortensia Martinez Loredo of Honduras, as “State Alumni Member”. Her leadership and promotion of women’s leadership and community development is being recognized.
Martinez had a vision of generating employment and income for Garifuna (Afro-Honduran) women in Honduras. This dream led her to establish seven women’s associations that produce cassava (yucca) bread for local and international consumption. She also created her own business, Wabagari Distribution, which processes the cassava produced by one of the associations.
Martinez advises more than 300 women in cassava commercialization. The cassava that is produced in Garifuna communities and exported through Wabagari Distribution has generated employment for small producers and has benefited 25 families. The cassava exports help these families earn above the average monthly family income of US$120 and improve their living conditions. Wabagari, which in Garifuna means “our life,” is also dedicated to promoting the Garifuna culture, both in Honduras and abroad, through the production and commercialization of cassava. In 2009, Martinez received the Presidential Export Award for successfully exporting to the United States the cassava brand “O’ Big Mama.”