Thursday, July 30, 2009

More meeting photos

My first artisans' meeting

Well, technically it's my second, since we dragged the deputy mayor over there last week. But that meeting was all about him. This was my turn to talk. An overwhelming majority of the artisans were interested in adopting the structure.

It took a while to get people interested in participating, but after about 30 minutes of stammering and the president clarifying what I was saying, the artisans began to speak up. Mostly, they were in agreement with the structure. The one exception was a tsunami confusion/cynicism about having a sales manager for fairs.

Selling at fairs is both a labor-intensive and money-intensive undertaking, since it involves transporting a large quantity of (sometimes fragile) merchandise a long distance, usually via bus. Artisans now either go in a group, on their own or not at all. In the past, those who have sent merchandise to a fair with another artisan have felt that their products were not pushed as strongly. Makers of wool sweaters also felt that their prices (and therefore sales) were being undercut by makers of synthetic sweaters.

At the end, there was still no consensus and artisans were divided on whether to send:
- Consistent representatives to all fairs to make stronger connections
- Rotating representatives, so that everyone has an opportunity to work a fair
- Rotating artisans, selling their own merchadise so everyone is responsible for his own sales
But at least they voted to elect sales manager for fairs.

Now that the structure has been approved by the artisans, it's time for elections. Well, it will be on Sunday, August 9th. That's the association's next meeting. Meetings were moved to accommodate artisans who work during the week. It's a very common for Urubambans to have multiple jobs to make ends meet. Additionally, the mercado is severely under-performing, so many opt to spend their days where they can actually make money.

In addition to the elections next week, the artisans will have to approve the agreement with the municipality allotting funds for education. There were a number of artisans who expressed an interest in writing the structure into the constitution, but that means drafting a formal act (una acta) and having everyone sign it. That's probably a little to ambitious for next week.

One meeting down, one to go

I met with Mario, the president of the artisan's association, this morning. We've decided to limit today's general meeting to presenting and discussing the proposed structure. Our goal is get the members to approve the structure and send them home with task of selecting potential officers in preparation for an election at next week's meeting.

Currently the associations structure consists of a president and a board of directors, but other than the president, treasurer, secretary and policeman, the roles are very loosely defined. We're asking them to elect 11 more positions:
  • Sales Director (Director de Ventas)
  • Purchaser (Comprador)
  • City Representative (Municipalidad)
  • Director of Education (Director de Educacion)
  • 4 Sales Managers (Gerentes de Ventas) - one for each sales channel: the physical market, tradeshows/fairs, wholesalers, internet
  • 3 VP's (subpresidentes) - one for each category of crafts: knits, ceramics, jewelry
Here's the proposed structure:
Right now, I've got to get busy preparing the presentation on papelotes (big sheets of paper); not surprisingly, there's no projector at the mercado for the extensive PowerPoint presentation.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This week's goals

Despite a mid-week, two-day holiday, we're hoping to make some important progress with the Mercado Artesano this week. Mario, the association's president, has called a meeting of the association for Thursday. We have two goals for the meeting.

1. We need the members of the artisan's association to approve the proposed organizational structure. Currently the association has a president, a board of directors and members. However, tasks have not been delegated to individuals, so very little progress has been made. The president - who was only recently elected - is no longer popular because of the lack of progress. The proposed structure is less top-heavy and has specific responsibilities for the each director and includes seven new positions: three coordinators (one for each type of craft: knits, jewelry and ceramics) and four deputy sales directors (one for each channel: the Mercado in Urubamba, fairs, wholesale and internet). When we met last week with Mario, he was very excited to implement the new structure. Hopefully, he'll be able to help us persuade the other members.

2. Additionally, the deputy mayor of Urubamba assured us that we had his full support and that all he needed before granting funds for design workshops was an agreement (a signed contract) between the artisan's association, the municipality and NeVo. We're drafting the agreement this week and hope to persuade the artisan's association to sign it at the meeting on Thursday.

Independence Days

July 28th and 29th mark the most important civil holiday in Peru. This year many activities have been canceled due to the swine flu, but not all. The husband of NeVo's program director in Urubamba is planning a rave for tonight, and I'm sure there will be smaller parties all around town.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Entrance to the Mercado Artesanal

Meeting with the Deputy Mayor of Urubamba

After setting up an 11am appointment with the deputy mayor to take him to the Mercado Artesanal, we showed to find him out of the office. Fortunately, he was next door in the Centro Cultural, and with enough pestering, he did eventually leave to come with us.

There were about 30 artisans there to meet him. Seeing 30 of the 65 booths open for business was a significant improvement over the 6 booths that were open when I visited the market for the first time on Tuesday.

The deputy's primary concern is that the artisans produce higher-quality, better-differentiated products. He promised to pay for design workshops. The artisans are divided as to whether they want workshops. Most of them would like better marketing and signage for the market.

Everyone is eager to pursue internet sales, but product quality and design has to improve before the deputy will set up a meeting with an exporter. But he backtracked quickly to say that a meeting with an exporter would just be for them to give us ideas.

In typical government fashion, the deputy insisted that the first thing to do was write contract between the town, the mercado and NeVo.