By Erin Faltermeier, Sustainable Tourism Volunteer

Maritza and Judi have always been leaders in their cooperative and their community. Now, they are leading their fellow knitters to business independence, starting with learning to manage the Puente Inca cooperative’s finances.

Over the past few months, Maritza and Judi have assumed responsibility for managing payments to the other women of their cooperative. Previously, Awamaki staff members Martha and Mercedes tracked each individual knitter’s output and paid each woman individually for her work. Maritza and Judi have now started to manage these records themselves. Now, Mercedes and Martha deliver only one payment to Puente Inca. Maritza and Judi then divvy up the payments among the women according to their output. Maritza explains her new responsibility, “Sometimes the women confuse how many pieces they’ve produced each month, so it’s important to have someone keeping track. I’m happy to take on this responsibility to improve the work of our cooperative.”

Across our cooperatives, women are taking steps to run their own businesses. From financial management to recordkeeping, from leading meetings to monitoring quality, the women of our cooperatives are learning skills that will ensure the future success and sustainability of their businesses, the income that they earn, and the better life that they are providing for their families.

Erin Faltermeier is interning with the Sustainable Tourism program for three months before returning to her home state of Virginia to graduate from the College of William and Mary in May. She likes to distract herself from thinking about what she will do for the rest of her life by taking long scenic hikes around Ollanta.