by Niman Mann, Groups Coordination Intern 

The knitters of Rumira just completed fifteen workshops in business training, including a capstone visit to Cusco and the city of Puno to visit successful women artisan leaders.

The goal of the workshops was to “educate [the knitters] to ensure that cooperative women are supported in their endeavors to run an independent business,” according to staff member Mercedes Durand, who organized the program.

The training program was designed to give the Rumira knitters the skills they need to be the first cooperative to graduate from Awamaki’s new Impact Model, so that they can run their own business independently of Awamaki.

Centro Batomolé de las Casas, a Cusco non-profit specializing in training workshops, conducted the business training this winter and spring. They offered fifteen workshops on the creation and operation of a business.

In Puno, the women exclusively studied the women-owned clothing store and company Moda Alpaca in order to understand how an independent business works with a client base, from start to finish. Here, the women of Rumira learned about quality control, knitting designs, catalogue organization, and finances. The trip to Puno thus served as an example of what a women-led business with clients, separate from Awamaki, would look like in practice.

“This is what we need. This is what we are missing,” said knitter Irma after visiting Moda Alpaca. She was referring to the group’s high level of organization, and especially their legal registration and operation in the formal economy.

The women also visited Cusco to learn about what resources are available to them as small business owners. The workshops featured a range of groups that highlighted different aspects of a successful business. Dircetur Cusco discussed women’s rights in the workplace, focusing on topics such as self-esteem. Officals at Serpost, the national postal service, explained the process behind exporting and importing products, introducing the women to institutions that will play a key role in the operation of a business model.

In Cusco and Puno, the women had a successful capstone of their months-long business trainings and are poised to move forward more independent, sustainable, and successful.