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Progress Report - "Artisans to Generate Sustainable Income from Forest Products"

funded by the First Parish Church of Lincoln, Massachusetts, and the Dudley Foundation, Washington State, through the Virtual Foundation

July 19, 2002

Women from villages in the Jalapa region have been developing their basket craftmaking skills, using pine needles which are abundant in their area. This is an avenue toward generating income, and developing the skills needed to make a small local business successful. With Virtual Foundation support for their initiative, the women of the village of El Trapiche, aided by local community workers, re-organized their cooperative. The leading forces are two women, Dona Guillerminia and Dona Gloria, who are very serious about finding a way to improve the economics of their community.

To get this project started, the cooperative met to assess their needs. They decided that they have two different categories of needs. First, improving and maintaining the quality of their products (the baskets), while producing enough to provide a steady source of income. Second, they need to develop the organizational skills required for marketing (setting prices, transporting, selling, keeping records, etc.). They concluded that having the most beautiful crafts is not sufficient to support the cooperatives; they also need a market for their crafts if they are to be able to sustain their families with these income. Although their crafts are currently being sold in a few places in the region of Jalapa, it was recognized that creating partnerships with shops and market places around Nicaragua - especially in the urban areas - would greatly contribute to the sustainability of their project. This new component has been added to the project. They are shifting some of the original project money earmarked for basket making training, to transportation and marketing.

Dennis and Betsy Duckett, Community Workers from Colorado (members of the Friendship City project), are working directly with the El Trapiche cooperative in their efforts to establish stronger links between the production and sales of the baskets, to ensure the long-term viability of this project.

Report submitted by Catherine Gauthier, Virtual Foundation Latin American Advisor
July 19, 2002.