30 March 2007


I know it is a cheesy post title, but I don't know what else to say! I was just invited by the microenterprise project manager here in our Peru office to accompany him on a survey of our microfinance clients in and around Cusco. While cool no matter what they do with our money, this is an especially cool opportunity because SOME OF THEM SPIN ALPACA! I know. You hate me. I promise I'll take pictures, maybe video if you're lucky, and I'll definitely buy buy buy.
This is a great breakthrough for my not-so-secret alpaca and wool marketing project idea. Just imagine -- fair trade alpaca and wool, just like fair trade coffee and chocolate. Now, I'm not usually the biggest fan of fair trade stuff (really, I could go on for hours), but if we can actually do it in a fair way, or at least work with the producers to get them to be able to enhance their role in the value chain or enter a specialty value chain, I will feel like I can retire in peace.

The graphic below is a copy of the drawing our microenterprise guy put on my whiteboard to show me how the value chain for yarn works. Our clients are in the 1-3% group. The graphic shows the percentage of the final sale price (the price you pay in the yarn shop) goes to each group. We know that almost all yarn shop owners are honest brokers, so take that into consideration:

I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to concentrate for the rest of the day.


hojasdelagracia said...

WAY COOL! I'm so excited for you and so wish I could be there too! I have been looking at this idea of free trade for fiber, yarn, and fiberarts producers for a long time as it relates to small cottage industry in the US and most recently here in S.A.. My problem is lacking the know how and resources to do much as well as lacking the spanish language skills to learn much here. I would be so into contributing somehow to a project like this and would love to hear more.

I love the photos you posted of your projects. The afgan is lovely and I completely agree about Cascade 220 superwash. Regular 220 is my favorite worsted weight yarn and I've been having serious withdrawals not having brought much with me.

Thanks too for posting about the Argintinian yarn store. I have been there twice now and they do have lovely yarns.

I would very much like to meet some other knitters in Quito. If you ever have the time and inclination to get together please let me know. hojasdelagracia at yahoo dot com

And finally a correction of typo in my last comment. Take the trolly on 10 de Agusto to the Banco Central stop to find that yarn store I decribed. (I had written that the trolly was on 6 de Agusto... I hate it when I do that...)

hojasdelagracia said...

Geesh, I have to slow down and proof my comments better. I was so excited I mistyped free trade when I meant fair trade.

In the states I've been involved in groups exploring coop type endeavors for fiber artists and I like the basic concept but there are drawbacks, at least in the US. On the surface Manos Del Uruguay seems to be a good model for a coop besides making very lovely yarns. (http://www.manos.com.uy/Manos05/ingles/qsomos/qsomos1.htm)

I am intrigued by tribal successes like the Hopi-Navajo, Kuna's in Panama and the OtavaleƱo's here in Ecuador. Although, I have little knowledge of the intricacies of how they work.

I have been pondering for several months now on what I could do to facilitate people helping themselves. I have so many ideas but I don’t know what is really do able.

I’ve looked at and am inspired by what others have done like http://www.organicbouquet.com/ , http://www.strappity.com/ , http://www.kiva.org/app.php , and https://www.peacecoffee.com/ .

I look forward to hearing your ideas if you wish to share them.