Santa Clara la Laguna, on the banks of lake Atitlan is situated 147 kms from Guatemala. Though placed in spectacular natural beauty, the people of this region live in extreme hardship and poverty: 85% exist below the poverty line with 65% illiteracy, high levels of child malnutrition, lack of basic infrastructure and 60% unemployment.
The people of this region belong to the ancient Mayan culture and the K’che’ indigenous ethnic group. One of the most traditional activities of this community is the manual crafting of articles from cane fibre. Cane plants grow by the lake and each craftsperson has their own crop. Cane is an incredible natural resource which flourishes the more it is cut, ensuring the ecological sustainability of the system.
A project financed by the Social Service Department of the Council of Madrid, Spain, and carried out by both CIDEAL, in Madrid, and FUNDAP, in Guatemala, was directed to promote sustainable development of the handicraft producers and their families, who work the cane fibre, exploiting the abundantly locally available resource.
The beneficiaries of this project belong to the poorest social class, and are unable to
fulfill their basic daily needs; consequently, they lack housing, education, and employment.
Two complementary actions were carried out simultaneously in order to achieve the main aims of the project:
The first action was focused on social organization of the sector and the creation of a productive structure that joined 150 indigenous artisans: men and women, who work in the sector.
The second action provided the artisans with training, technical assistance, bank credits and help to commercialization, so as to achieve better quality and a more efficient diversified production. This would allow easier access of the products to the national and international markets in the required conditions.
INNOVARTE also organized the attendance of the artisans to commercial fairs such as Biocultura Madrid 2003, in Spain. This represented the effort made by the project executing entities, CIDEAL and FUNDAP to put craftpersons in direct contact with their consumers avoiding intermediaries thereby ensuring that the artisans received the maximum economic gain. Apart from exhibiting the craft objects, the fairs also provide the opportunity for the creator to meet his consumer exchange ideas and create awareness and a knowledge base of grass-root art activities.
SERVICES PROVIDED BY INNOVARTE
Technological Innovation in Production: in which research of raw material is conducted, followed by the technological transfer required to optimize the craft and semi-craft manufacturing process. Great importance is also given to the quality control to reach standards needed in international markets.
Product Design: Design, for Innovarte, is the key to help improve craft articles. The whole process is reconsidered, studied and modified according to international trends. New collections based on the market are designed, but always preserving the local cultural features.
Marketing: Innovarte is concerned with the importance of international trends and consumer’s tastes. It brings this information to the craftmen/women. It is also involved in the process of presentation of the articles with correct packaging and labels, required to communicate properly with the customer. Innovarte undertakes market research, products test, creation of a brand, together with assistance to craftspersons to participate in fairs and thereby creating channels of distribution.
Image and Promotion: Innovarte organizes special events; designs catalogues, advertising material and web sites, aimed to help the articles be present in different markets and improve sales.
Training: Innovarte also provides training in the form of courses, seminars, conferences for both craftmen and their trainers and NGO staff, organizing the interchange of information and experiences among different entities and crafts associations.
For further information please contact:
Glorieta de Bilbao
C/Sagasta, 1-1 C 28004 Madrid
Phone: 0034 91 448 56 04