It’s been a busy few months for the women at our Nii Kaniti project in Central Peru. Although still in its infancy, there’s a project underway to build a sustainable enterprise that will provide a route to market for their traditional Amazonian handicrafts. In a region where economic activity is heavily male-dominated, these women are passionate about this undertaking and committed to making it a success.
With the support of AIDER, our implementing partner on the ground, local women’s groups from the indigenous communities that are part of the Nii Kaniti project have been cultivating relationships with two sustainable fashion brands in Peru – Estrafalario and Las Polleras de Agus – to contribute traditional native embroidery techniques to a range of products for their collections. The artisans have also developed their own embroidery products, combining traditional Shipibo Conibo art with new trends in fashion, for example glasses holders, coin holders and bags. If the products demonstrate commercial potential, both companies have committed to establish an agreement with the artisans for buying embroidered products on a more regular basis. This is an exciting project and 100 artisan women from the five participating Shipibo Conibo communities are involved in proving its viability.
“I am proud to have come this far with the sustainable fashion company, creating Amazon collections for brands. I used to do embroidery on fabrics, now I can make products which I can sell at the Ruraq Maki fair.” Celinda Rodrigiez (Member of the craft committee of the Flor de Ucayai native community)
Although highly skilled in creating impressive Amazonian designs, these women lack important negotiation skills along with knowledge of the market, production costs and reasonable pricing strategies. But with the help of AIDER, the project is gradually growing from a concept to an enterprise with promise. A key way this work is being facilitated is through the development of a local social enterprise called Nii Biri, based in the local city of Pucallpa, which acts as the central hub for indigenous economic activities, coordinating the upscaling of products, route to market, business administration and promotion of products. Climate finance is facilitating the commercial growth of this organisation into a profitable business for the local communities. Read more about Nii Biri here. Nii Biri, in coordination with AIDER, supported the local women’s groups through providing some materials and making the connection with the fashion brands in Lima.
We recently sat in on a meeting of one of the community handicraft committees to hear about their progress. We heard that the women in the programme feel invigorated, and proud to be able to take part in a project that is their own. The project is giving them a sense of achievement that they didn’t have before.
Here on the edge of the Amazon, sustainable enterprises like this one are making a huge difference, not just in uplifting communities but in promoting conservation. Along with empowering female-led business, this project supports community development that protects the forest rather than degrades it by putting an economic value on handicrafts made by women, which contributes to the conservation of forest resources such as dye species. At Ecosphere+, we are committed to projects that address deforestation and forest degradation at the root of the cause. Supporting socially inclusive businesses, including the handicraft project at Nii Kaniti, develops long-lasting commitment to environmental conservation, creating a clear incentive to protect resources and work with nature, rather than against it. Learn more about the Nii Kaniti project here.