Tkena sewing school
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Asociación Tkéna is a group of people who work hard every day to bring new opportunities to the families of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. We offer sewing classes, English classes for adults and children, employment opportunities, and a fabric store. Each of these is a part of our plan to build strong families and communities.

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Who We Are

Tkéna means both “seed” and “power” in Cabécar, an indigenous language of Costa Rica.

Asociación Tkéna is an organization made up of a diverse group of people from the greater Nicoya area of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. We are a mix of Costa Ricans and Ex-patriots of all ages  working together to bring positive change to the people of the region.

We work closely in collaboration with the Foundation Latin America, a non-profit organization from the United States that has been helping us grow our initiative through financial and administrative support.

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Our Story

Asociación Tkéna grew from the work of Maricel Carrillo. In 2009 Maricel recognized that many of the women in her town needed to work. Many of them had children or other reasons that they needed to be home. She saw the effects on the women, their families, and the community when mothers were unable to contribute financially to their households.

She began to offer classes to the women in her community. Teaching them marketable skills that they could use to achieve their personal and family goals, and still be home if they needed to be.  Over the years many people have passed through her classes, learning things as diverse as jewelry making and hydroponics. But her real love is sewing.

The sewing classes started with hand needles and for used clothes for fabric, because it was what they had. Over the years, through lots of hard work, and collaboration, Maricel’s project has grown from a handful of women with hand needles to over 60 women with sewing machines.

Maricel now visits 5 towns. The program has a name now- InstitutoTkéna and it has 1 permanent classroom and another under construction in a different town, but she and her husband still pack their car and bring the classroom to 3 other villages each week.

Many of the women now produce professional quality garments. They use these skills to make and market products to their friends and neighbors. Many are making significant contributions to the household finances each month, some are supporting their families. 

  The Instituto has opened a “Pasamaneria” (fabric store) and each participant in the sewing classes has access to an interest free $20 credit. Most students take advantage of the credit as it allows them to produce garments and sell them before they have to pay back the materials.

We made great progress in 2018, but our 2019 goal is even more ambitious. We plan to become a 100% self sustaining organization by the end of the year.


In order to do that we need to:

1.Complete construction on the new school space.

2.Set up the workshop so that the women who have graduated have a safe, comfortable place to work should they choose to work outside the home.

3.Find customers for what they make.

4.Secure reliable transportation for the teachers and the equipment so that classes in remote areas can continue.

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Our Projects

Innovative Community Development

For information about becoming a student and current course offerings please click "Student Info" below.

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Sewing Schools

Serving Women in 5 Communities

The Sewing Schools are the backbone of Asociación Tkéna's work. This is where the magic begins. Sewing classes are not just about learning to sew. They are about learning to accept challenges, setting goals, teamwork, persistence, and discovering your own potential. These are the first piece of Instituto Tkéna which we are working hard to grow into a thriving community for learning and sharing.

English Classes

For Adults & Children

Instituto Tkéna also offers other programs. The first to launch after the sewing schools were the English classes. Because we are located in a tourist area, one of the most marketable skills anyone can learn is to speak English. It is easiest to learn when you start early, but even adults can enjoy learning a new language. English classes are a fun and dynamic and taught by a certified TEFL teacher.

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The Workshop

We're ready to work!

We have several students who are ready to produce in large scale for the marketplace. The workshop is under construction and it will be a place where our students and graduates of the program can come to work for pay. The workshop will make sports uniforms for local teams, as well as uniforms for local businesses. Over time we are sure the operation will grow, but that is our starting place. Anything earned beyond the cost of operations will go back into the programs and projects of the Association.

The Pasamaneria

Fabric & Craft Store

The Pasamaneria is a Fabric & Craft Store in San Fernando. The building is under construction, but the materials are available for our students. Having materials available nearby lets them work more easily.

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Contact Tkena

Sámara, Provincia de Guanacaste, Costa Rica

+506 2656 2176

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