Ecuador | |

Huertomanías is a collective of people living with severe mental disorders, predominantly schizophrenia, whose mission is to achieve financial and social autonomy through livelihoods projects, such as gardening.

The Huertomanias partners have created a space they can exercise their right to work, generate income, and partake in a participatory democracy. The collective also host workshops at their garden with school children, university students and other community groups to educate people about farming, food and mental health.

What Others Can Learn

Huertomanias is creating a blueprint for community businesses led by people with severe mental disorders. This project emerged because of their own recognition that meaningful employment can be a form of therapy that creates independence, self-worth, and a sense of purpose.

They also show that people living with mental disorders who conduct awareness-raising should expect to be paid for it and that, with the right support and approach, this work can be fun and fulfilling rather than draining or traumatic.

Partnership With Ember

The goal was to improve Huertomanias’ financial sustainability. At the start of the partnership, they already thought of themselves as a business rather than a charity, but they weren’t generating enough income to be sustainable. Also, they wanted to develop a model appliable to other livelihood projects in addition to gardening.

Our work together saw Huertomanias design a more robust business model with a clear vision and strategy for the medium- and long-term. This helped the team to create a framework for how it could be applied in different forms.

As a result, Huertomanias strengthened their operational system by differentiating roles and sharing responsibility across the team. They also built capacities in core business skills like budgeting and pitching and started expanding their network in the global mental health and business spheres.