Monday, April 26, 2010

Long awaited updates

You know that feeling when you haven't talked to someone in a long time and it's your fault, and then you run into them and have to think of a reason why they haven't heard from you but you can't think of anything so you just change the subject?
Anyway, updates on the artisan market!
In the last post I mentioned that the artisans were awaiting the results of the sustainable development proposal contest, the NeVo Social Fund. I hate to say it, but their proposal did not win, though it was a finalist. On the bright side, the association now has a solid project proposal that we can use to look for other sources of funding. As of now we haven't found any takers, but I'm confident we will eventually.
Work with the tourism network, Arariwa is going smooth and it appears that some great things can come out of it. On the 28th, 29th, and 30th of April, the artisans, along with other artisan associations throughout the Valley, will perform a sociodrama about the problems and obstacles they face in growing their markets to various officials and authorities that can provide them assistance. It's not a conventional approach to seeking support, but the association is having fun with it and the arisans are taking the lead in making the sociodrama a success.
Hotel Libertador (now called Tambo del Inca) did not open as planned on March 31st, but word has it they'll be opening the first week of May. Despite scheduling issues, the 20 artisans that will sell their products in the hotel have decided that they will work together (finally!), with each artisan putting an equal value of products in the store, and each collecting an equal amount of the profits every 15 or 30 days. Now all there is to do is wait for the doors to open...
In other news, the municipality of Urubamba has a new head of economic development, Ing. Justo Vallenas Bellota, and Nexos and the association already have the beginnings of a strong relationship with him. He is very interested in helping the market and the association improve, and all are looking forward to working together to achieve this.
Thanks to our friend Umair, the artisans' products in Canada are selling with success. In addition, thanks to Cécile we are moving ahead strongly with the opportunity to sell ceramics in France. Big thanks from Urubamba to you both!
Lastly, coming in May and June Nexos will be recieving two new volunteers to work with the association. We all hope they will be more loyal bloggers than me....shouldn´t be hard to do.
So that's all for now! Until next time blog fans...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Aaaaannnd we're back!

Due to the severe flooding that has been affecting the Sacred Valley over the last month or so, much of the normal work of Nexos Voluntarios was put on hold. However, over the last few weeks, despite more floods, we have been back in full swing, and that means there are some new updates with the artisan association.
To begin, the artisans successfully completed and submitted their project proposal for the sustainable community development contest, Fondo Social NeVo, and are awaiting the announcement of the winner on March 20th. Their project consists of a common fund that will serve almost as a microcredit provider within the association. Members of the association can take small loans in order to buy materials to make their products. They have 3 months to repay, with 4% interest on the principal. However, there are rules to the fund.
Loans can only be used to buy materials for artistry, and only those who actually work inside the market are eligible for a loan. We added this provision with the hopes the it will be a strong enough incentive to bring the artisans into the market, something the association is lacking at the moment. In addition, half of the interest collected will go into a social health fund. Members of the association will be able to use money from this fund when they or someone in their family is sick, and they need help with the medical bill. This fund is donation only- no interest, no repayment. Obviously there are more specific rules and regulations within the project, so leave us some comments if you'd like to hear more.
Hotel Libertador will open its doors on the 31st of March, meaning we will begin basic finance classes and start formulating a business model for those artisans participating in the store ASAP. There is a lot of work to be done, but I think we can do it. We just need the association to work together!
A group of artisans found a tourism network managed by a local organization, Arariwa, and are beginning the process to join. The network will be able to bring tourists to the market. This is a huge opportunity for the association. Their first meeting is at the end of the month.
There is another new opportunity in the form of MINCETUR (Ministerio de Comerio Exterior y Turismo) that may be able to help the artisans with new skill building classes. This is very early stage, and we are a few meetings and a trip to Lima short of knowing exactly where we will go with this.
Lastly, today is the association's president's birthday! So ¡feliz cumpleaños, Mario! ¡Vamos a celebrar!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

We need your help!

As of January 25th, the Sacred Valley has been over-run by flooding due to unprecedented rainfall. Many people have lost their homes and farmland, and some towns have completely disappeared.
In a region where poverty is already a problem and home insurance does not exist, the effects of the flooding will be felt long after the water recedes. WE NEED YOUR HELP!
If you have any extra clothes, imperishable food, or anything worth donating, please contact us through our website:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Peruvian hats on Canadian heads...sounds like a plan.

Q: What do you get when you cross Canadian university students with hand made Peruvian products?
A: Stylish scholars and happy artesans.
This week we worked with the artesans to choose products to send to the University of Western Ontario, where, with the help of our friend Umair (that´s right, we know Canadians), we will sell sell sell!
For the first round of operations, we selected 50 products including hats, gloves, jackets, purses, backpacks, rings, and many other great items. Cross your fingers, we´re hoping for big results.
In other news, the association has almost completed their proposal for the sustainable community development contest, Fondo Social NeVo, and is beginning to seriously prepare for their 2 stores in the local Hotel Libertador. In addition, the artesans sent out their first of three payment notifications to the inactive artesans in the association. This is an important step in the fortalization of the association, and we at Nexos are happy to see it finally happening.
Next week we hope to get the store in Canada up and running, and start making some real moves on an opportunity to sell ceramics in France. The proposal for the Fondo Social NeVo should be complete and we will continue prepping for Hotel Libertador.
It´s been busy in the artesan market, but busy is good, and we´re happy to put in the effort. I would also like to point out that I refrianed from making an "eh" joke this entire post, despite it´s focus on Canada. You´re welcome UWO students. Now please buy some cool Peruvian products.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Since we last spoke...

Since the last post, Nexos has enjoyed the holiday season and moved its volunteer house to a mansion with a private swimming pool, two tennis courts, and a mini-jet (maybe not all that stuff, but its has a lot more rooms). But that is just the small stuff...
The artesans are BUSY. The sewing classes are still going strong and the artesans are making some great new products including jackets, vests, purses, and gadget holders of all kinds. It is great timing because this week we are preparing to send a package of sample products to a store in the University of Western Ontario, as well as prepping the ceramistas to sell their ceramics in France. In addition, due to construction issues, we gained some more time to get ready to sell products in the local Hotel Libertador. Sound like a lot? There´s more.
Nexos Voluntarios is holding its first province wide contest between its beneficiaries to create a sustainable social development project. For the artesans, this means something that will help grow the association in the long term. We have lots of thinking to do.
That should about wrap it up for now. Check back soon, as the updates will be more regular again. ¡Feliz año neuvo de Urubamba!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

El Hotel Libertador

Yesterday we received some great news. A local hotel, The Hotel Libertador, selected the Asociación de Artesanos Valle Sagrado to sell their products in their lobby! The contest began about a month ago, and after two rounds of tough competition, the artisans of Urubamba have won a great opportunity.
The largest problems with the association are the lack of organization and the inability to sell to tourists directly. This should help with both, because the good news provides something to rally around in addition to access to tourists.
What lies ahead is making sure the association is ready. But we have a lot of time, and we are all excited to finally have some good news!
Also, as promised, check out the pic of our new teacher doing what he does best during one of his classes with the association.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

You´ve been doing WHAT?

Don´t worry loyal blog fans, Urubamba didn´t fall off the face of the Earth taking your beloved internet posts with it. It´s just been busy.
To start, new skill workshops have started with our new ¨profesor¨, Mauricio, from Cuzco. Right now the artisans are learning new techniques on sewing machines, and seem to be really enjoying it. Participation is higher than usual, and they really are making some great stuff. Today I caught the end of their class and they were finishing up making purses and sachels, products which are slightly different from those found in the surrounding markets (did someone say ¨diversification¨?).
This weekend also marked Urubamba´s 170th anniversary. Translation: festivals and parties for 4 days straight. Some artisans took advantage of the opportunity to sell their products in the plaza during the festivities. The others did what the rest of Urubamba did this weekend: dance, dance, dance.
And sorry there´s no pics with this post. If you´ve been following the blog (like I know you have been) you will know that Arnaud has left us. That means his fancy camera left us too. But have no worries, we´ll get some new stuff up here soon.