Awamaki Weaving Cooperative Projects
Who amongst us has ever visited a country less developed than our own without returning home with a handmade craft of some description? Whether it’s an intricately carved wooden instrument (the name of which you can’t pronounce), beaded jewellery, shoes, scarves, or artwork, it’s safe to say that what a community might lack in material wealth they certainly do not want for creativity. What they do sometimes lack is business acumen.
Half a million tourists travel through Ollantaytambo on their way to Machu Picchu every year. Despite this influx of tourists, rural, indigenous women are left out of the modern economy. Small villages located just outside the town’s vicinity live in poverty, many having no roads, electricity or telephones. Access to schools and health clinics is limited. This project aims to create and expand the women’s opportunities to participate in the modern economy in these locations, making the most out of the influx of tourism in the area.
Inspired Escapes has partnered with Awamaki, a local charity in Peru which is collaborating with the greater Ollantaytambo community to create economic opportunities and improve social well-being through artisanal vocations. They envision highly skilled Andean women artisans engaged in the market economy, running successful cooperative businesses, and leading their communities out of poverty.
Awamaki works with women from remote, marginalized communities. The success of these women rests on the comprehensive education and training that they provide. They leverage 100% of donations to provide this support and to fund program start-ups and expansion, such as organizing and training new cooperatives to become self-sustaining after their initial investment. In addition to skills and product design training, Awamaki facilitates market access for the women’s products. They operate a store in Ollantaytambo to sell products to tourists. They also sell the products in the United States through their online store, trunk shows and partner retailers.
Awamaki transforms communities by giving women access to income-generating opportunities. Income in the hands of women is the most effective way to lift rural families and communities out of poverty. A large body of research indicates that giving women access to resources translates into improved child nutrition, health and education. Poor women know what their families need, and they invest income directly into their children, their livelihoods and their communities.
Awamaki uses business strategies to accomplish their mission. Unlike a traditional charity, they don’t give hand-outs. They give education and opportunity. By investing in women’s skills, they offer empowerment and independence. Through their training, the women can engage with the modern economy on their own terms. This is a sustainable and empowering form of assistance. Once women have the skills to connect to markets, they don’t need help earning an increased income.
To fundraise for this project is to support a permanent solution to poverty much larger than a Robin Hood ideology of wealth redistribution. Everyone with a creative skill deserves to capitalise on it, but whether you’re Taylor Swift or a jeweller in Peru, it takes a collective effort to make that happen.
For more information please visit www.awamaki.org