Thursday, September 24, 2009

Next Monday (September 28) the Hotel Libertador will organize his contest in order to select the best artisans that will have the right to sell their products inside the hotel. Of course "our" artisans will try their luck and in order to look more professional we have created a logo for them. The logo represent actually the town of Urubamba we then added some effects. We will print it on "business cards" and on the back of each card the artisans will write their name and their own speciality. We hope that with this logo the artisans will appear more like an Association rather than a set of individuals.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Some Bad News and Some Good News

Last week during our weekly meeting we heard about a bad news: apparently about eight artisans are members of an other artisans association in Urubamba (Association Aguajinca) and therefore are seen as a liability because they spread (according to Mario) bad rumours about our Association. Daniel, Ian and I did not know about that even if it is not a recent problem. We were very surprised to hear that and we do not really understand why Mario did not tell us about that before. Anyway we were thinking to ask “diplomatically” those people to leave the Association, Mario is going to talk to them to fix this issue. Concerning the good news first the artisans attended the Design Workshop with a great enthusiasm (see picture), secondly a new hotel is going to open in Urubamba, the Hotel Libertador. This hotel will organize a competition (September 28, 2009) among all the artisans of Urubamba and the winners will obtain a space inside the hotel where they will be able to sell their products. There are 10 places available, therefore this is a great opportunity for the artisans to gain access to new customers. As it is going to be a five stars hotel the quality of the products will be crucial, hopefully the Design Workshop with Patty will be fruitful! On the top of that next month the Artisans of Urubamba will be responsible for organizing a big meeting (“seminar”) about artesania where all the artisans of the Sacred Valley will attend. This will be an opportunity for the Artisans of Urubamba to show their work and prove their capability to organize such a meeting...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Update on Design Workshop

Last Sunday the artisans had an "extraordinary" meeting to talk about the design workshop. The issue was that some of the artisans were not happy with the choice of Patty as the designer. Find an other designer would have taken more time and wasted money

We explained them the importance to accept Patty in order not to waste the money from the Municipality (The Municipality accepted to pay for the design workshops only until the end of November). We told them as well that if they are not happy with Patty we might find an other designer but that it is crucial to start the workshops as soon as possible. Eventually the artisans accepted our suggestion and on Tuesday they had their first design workshop. Around ten persons attended this workshop and so far everything seems to be working well.

Money in the Bank

On Monday Daniel, Arnaud and I headed to Cusco to talk with an administrator from Mibanco, a Peruvian microfinance bank that provides small loans to micro-entrepreneurs to help them launch or expand their businesses. Though it is obvious that the artisans are not yet able to safely incur debt, even the small amount from a micro-loan, it was a great opportunity to inquire about the general requirements and rules of microcredit in Peru. As we work to generate tourism and income inflows into the market, the opportunity for credit access will stay in the back of our minds.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Como se dice....

Today we held the first English class for the artisans of Urubamba. Though teaching English is not a prime objective of the project, the artisans asked for some basic lessons to help them communicate with prospective customers. After lots of prodding and arm twisting (not really!), Arnaud and I agreed.
A larger than expected group showed up, and we dove right into numbers and games. Everyone was energetic and ready to participate, making the class not only more educational, but more fun as well.
If nothing else, the classes will give the artisans more confidence when speaking with tourists and will give us the opportunity to get to know everyone on a more personal level. The class went great, and I think the artisans will be speaking basic English in no time!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Priorities for the Association

As a consequence of the last meeting with the artisans we agreed that the top-priority is to strengthen the association of artisans, Daniel draw the four next steps for Nexos’ volunteers:


1.     Discuss with the Municipality how the Convenio will be enforce, who is going to receive the money and what will happen if the totality of the money is not spent.

2.     Promote Fair-Trade with the artisans.

3.     Inquire if it would be possible to install a stall inside the Bus Terminal.

4.     Create a banner to indicate the site of the market.

Update on Sunday’s artisans meeting

Daniel attended the meeting and briefed us about the relevant points.

The main issue concern the organization of the design workshops as some artisans are not motivated any more to take those classes. Some artisans seem doubtful that those workshops will be helpful for them. This is a surprise for us as one week ago the artisans seemed enthusiastic at this idea.

Even if this will have to be discussed with Mario, one option for us would be to focus on the motivated artisans and hope that the others will follow.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Our new boss

On Thursday (Sept. 3) our new supervisor, Daniel Nakasone, joined us from Lima. He will be the new coordinator of all Nexos projects in Urubamba. He graduated from the Universidad Catholica de Peru in July of 2009 with a degree in communication for social development. Daniel volunteered with Nexos in Lima in 2007 as a consultant for Tierros de los Hombres. The project helped to restore justice for minors.
Daniel likes writing poetry, listening to music, traveling and hiking. He will be with us until December, and we are excited to have him on the team!

Announcing the good news to Mario

On Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 2) we had our first weekly meeting with Mario and we announced him the good news about the Convenio, he was very happy and asked us quickly when we can start the design workshops. We still have to coordinate with Patty but we plan to start the design workshops next week. In addition Ian and myself agreed to organize some workshops to teach them twice a week basic English, we will probably start in the next two weeks. All the issues about the workshops will have to be discussed next Sunday at the general meeting of the Artisans Association but unfortunately Ian and I will not be able to attend because we are going to hike Machu Picchu…! However Daniel (the new guy responsible of the project for Nexos, see above) will attend the meeting on Sunday.

Convenio: finally signed up

I feel a bit uncomfortable to write this post because it is Melissa and Ana’s work but they left just before the finalisation of this agreement between the municipality of Urubamba and the artisans’ association.

On Wednesday morning (Sept. 2) at 8.00 am Conny and I went to the municipality to see the Deputy Mayor Sr. Raymundo in order to sign up the convenio.

Even if everything was supposed to be in order, the Deputy Mayor was still concern about the clause in the contract (article 17) that stipulated that the present agreement link the two parties for an undefined period. The deputy Mayor was worried that Municipality had to pay indefinitely. The thing is that an other article (article 12) precise that the Municipality will need to pay only for the 3 next months. This point was not really clear for the Deputy Mayor and as a consequence he asked us to come back later in the day because I wanted to discussed about it with the Alcalde.

At the beginning of the afternoon Conny, Ian, Amanda and I went back to the municipality. After 30 minutes wait, the secretary of the Alcalde showed up with the signed copy, it was done. The Alcalde finally agreed to sign the Convenio without any modifications as it was eventually clear that the Municipality promised to pay only for the next 3 months but that the “collaboration” with artisans will be undefined. We hoped a picture with the Alcalde but we did not even meet him.

Anyway this Convenio is a very good start for the artisans and means that the Municipality of Urubamba will pay the amount of 1,250 Nuevo Soles per month to the Artisans Association at least for the next three months. This money will be used to finance education workshops (design workshops).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The New Regime

Tomorrow is my last day in Urubamba. I am sad to go, but least Ana and I are leaving the project in capable hands. Two new volunteers are set to take over. Ian McGroarty is from New Jersey, but will be living in Peru for the next six months. He is a 2008 graduate from Penn State with a major in Economics. He specialized in development and international poverty alieviation. He used this background to volunteer both as a micro-enterprise consultant and with the One Campaign. He has developed business plans and pursued micro-financing, both of which will be great assests to this project. When he's not helping out in developing nations, he likes to box and play the guitar. Arnaud L'Hertier comes to us via Switzerland, then Canada and the U.S., but he will be making his home in Peru until the end of October. He majored in International Relations at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. After graduating, he worked in the Vancouver Treasury Department, then went to Berkley to study finance. Arnaud hopes to use his background to secure micro-financing for the artisans to facilitate wholesale purchasing and education workshops. He also has a passion for photography, so stay tuned for his shots of Urubamba.

Learning Mario´s Trade

Since it was the end of our stay in Urubamba, Mario said he´d like us to see his workshop where he makes jewelry. We also brought Arnaud, so he would have the chance to meet Mario before we left. We also got to meet Mario´s wife, since she picked us up for the long walk to the shop. When we got there, we saw the tools he uses to create the rings, earrings and pendants. He also showed us the different forms silver comes in (tiny sliver balls, which are turned into sticks of silver, which are then turned into whatever Mario creates). As if it wasn´t interesting enough to learn all that, Mario then asked if we wanted to make rings for ourselves. Of course! We started with thin strips of silver, then added even smaller strips for detail. We had to heat them until they were glowing so we could solder them together. Then we had to use metal-cutting scissors to trim off the excess. Then somehow, Mario fashioned it into a circle, which we had to pound- a lot- to make it smooth. Finally, it had to go into a jar of chemicals and then Mario used a machine to shine to final product. With a lot of help from Mario, the rings turned out really nice. Who knew playing with a blow torch could be so much fun???