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 cumpleaƱos, Mario! ¡Vamos a celebrar!