Capacity-building for rural women artisans in Peru

by Awamaki
Vetted
Nov 1, 2012

Greenhouses, natural dyes and Excel spreadsheets!

Jesusa, who took classes in teaching weaving
Jesusa, who took classes in teaching weaving
It has been a busy and productive three months at Awamaki, and we are wrapping up a year of great progress with our women's cooperatives in continued skills-building
Your support of capacity-building at Awamaki funds three types of trainings:
  • technical trainings that enable our women to improve the quality and marketability of their products, this directly increasing their income
  • management skills training that support our women in taking increasing ownership of the daily business of the cooperative, such as Excel training so they can manage orders and attendance
  • life skills trainings that support general well-being for them and their families. These topics come from needs identified by the women. We run them because while we believe that while income in the hands of women is the most effective way to lift families and communities out of poverty, we recognize that health, education and leadership play a crucial role.
Please read on about the workshops in which our women have participated!
Our knitters have recently completed two workshops on quality finishing techniques, and they are currently applying this new knowledge to their first large export order! They are currently completing 40 pairs of complicated slippers and 50 baby hats, as well as continuing to stock our store in Peru. In the upcoming months, they will be learning new men's and children's accessories, and beginning another round of training to knit complicated items such as sweaters and cardigans. With intensive support from our staff and an external trainer, they are starting to take on more managerial responsibilities, such as managing attendance and banking for their common fund.
The knitting cooperative members have also attended workshops on green technology and design, product differentiation and innovation.
This year, our seamstresses learned how to make 12 new patterns, half of which are extremely complicated. They have also started computer and English classes taught by our wonderful volunteers, and with the help of these new skills they have begun managing and placing their own inventory orders. Most exciting and fun, they have done a few design workshops and even come up with one design of their own for a baby backpack. Currently they are sewing ponchos, bags, wallets, purses and skirts for the holiday season in the United States. (For an amazing gift idea, check out their products online!). In the upcoming months the seamstresses will be focusing heavily on the 12 designs they learned, continuing to practice placing orders and creating production schedules, and moving into more design work of their own.
The sewing and knitting cooperatives have made so much progress in product development, they were recently featured in Vogue India! See the attached PDF for a look.
In the indigenous communities, our weavers have improved their variety of dye colors and ability to weave to measurement this year. We hope to carry out one more dye workshop in November. This workshop will be a bit different from past workshops: rather than dyeing with the whole cooperative, the weavers have nominated several women to undergo an intensive training so that they can lead future dye workshops with both the cooperative and tourists, thus increasing cooperative autonomy and income, while freeing up Awamaki funds to invest in other skills.
This year, our sustainable tourism program developed an intensive four-day weaving workshop that sends tourists to live with our weavers and learn to spin raw wool and weave on the backstrap loom. Both the homestay and the lessons for these tourists represent a significant source of income for the weavers. Six of our weavers volunteered for an intensive three-day training in how to teach weaving. We hope that by improving the quality of the lessons, we can offer the program widely and increase the number of tourists who go. Typical of the members of this cooperative,four of the weavers who attended did not complete primary school; two others went to high school, but neither graduated. All have young children. These new skills will represent enormous opportunity for them. Our next trainings will be on hospitality and cooking to ensure that they can provide a quality, comfortable experience for tourists.
Thirteen of our weavers have also undergone four workshops on greenhouse maintenance and agriculture. We have built eight greenhouses in the past two years and will be builidng five more this year. Weavers grow natural dye plants for their weaving that they would otherwise have to buy, and vegetable for their families. The greenhouses allow for increased economic independence and food security.
Our spinners are currently learning to spin chunky alpaca yarn for sale. Accustomed to spinning very tight, thin yarn for weaving, they are struggling to create thick yarn with structural integrity and consistent thickness. The yarn they currently produce sells well in the store in Peru, but is unfit for export. Moreover, we have found that lots of alpaca fiber is wasted in the spinning process. We hope to teach our spinners to create felt from this fiber so our seamstresses can use it to make home furnishings accessories. So far this year, we haven't had the ability to invest in workshops in spinning and felting, but we hope that we will have the funds to conduct these by the end of the year. We have also applied for a grant in support of this project. Wish us luck!
Finally, we are working with our partner health organization to offer reproductive health classes to our cooperatives, starting with our Spanish teachers in Ollantaytambo. We think this says it all.

Thank you so much for your support and we look forward to keeping you updated in the future! Please don't hesitate to contact us for any reason at info@awamaki.org!

Learning the cowl neck scarf
Learning the cowl neck scarf
Knitter with yarn fresh from the spinning coop
Knitter with yarn fresh from the spinning coop

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Organization Information

Awamaki

Location: Ollantaytambo, Cusco - Peru
Website: http:/​/​www.awamaki.org/​
Project Leader:
Mary Kennedy Leavens
Ollantaytambo, Cusco Peru
$20,032 raised of $24,000 goal
 
375 donations
$3,968 to go
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