Semillas, which in Spanish means seeds, was the first women’s fund in the Global South, created in Mexico City in 1990. Its mission is to provide resources to women’s organisations across Mexico working for equity and the full participation of women.
As a grant maker, Semillas provides money to women’s rights groups and initiatives working in four areas: women and work (including land ownership), sexual and reproductive rights, reducing gender based violence and human rights. Additionally, Semillas runs two programmes to strengthen the capacities of grantees: institutional strengthening and fundraising. Priority groups for support are indigenous women, domestic workers, lesbians, young women and sex workers.
Semillas works with a variety of donors in Mexico, such as local businesses and institutions, not only raising funds from them but also involving them in outreach and education. It has a strong reputation for its network of individual donors (Red MIM), through which it engages with individual women and men so that they see themselves as funder-activists and become more aware of women’s rights generally. The organisation sees philanthropy as a wheel in constant motion where everyone is, or needs to become, funder and recipient, fundraiser and implementer at the same time. Semillas supports her grantees to fundraise in their communities. Some groups have even become self-supporting, with grantees being stimulated to support emerging groups in their areas with resources and technical support.
Since 2011, Semillas has partnered with Mama Cash as a key resource for the Strengthening Local Fundraising initiative, hosting internships for the staff of younger women’s funds and grantees, training them on local fundraising and communications.
Semillas was supported by Mama Cash in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and it received a closing grant in 2012.