Our Compañera: Francisca!

By Bri Griesinger, Marketing and Communications Coordinator

We had the opportunity to have our interview featured in The Little Market blog. Find it on their website here.

Francisca is a reserved but bright light in the Mujeres Tejedoras Puente Inca cooperative, a professional knitter for the past nine years. She lives in a quiet riverside town just on the outskirts of Ollantaytambo, Peru. She is a motherly figure to all other 11 women in the cooperative, which was formed back in 2010 after a flood from the Urubamba river wiped out many homes and local businesses in the area, and left families without any self-sustaining resources. Nine years later and life in Puente Inca is back to normal, and then some; the artisans have found a reliable way to earn their own income and support their families from future disasters, independently.

Many of the artisans who work with Awamaki report spending at least a portion of their incomes on home improvement projects. “Now I’m able to buy some things for my house that I didn’t have before,” Francisca noted.

Francisca lives alone, and has two grown daughters, ages 24- and 28-years-old, who are studying tourism, and IT, respectively, two hours away in Cusco. “I stay at home and knit, sometimes I go to the market and occasionally I work there too,” Francisca explained. “I like to knit and cook and take care of my animals; I like to be at home with them.” When she isn’t at home, Francisca stops by the Awamaki office to turn in her latest products, or attend workshops or trainings. “Rosa,” her fellow cooperative member, “got me involved at first,” she mentioned, “I like to be informed and learn about knitting and the other things we are trained on.”

“I am humble, but I’d say I’m most proud of my products and my daughters,” she explained. Personally, Francisca prefers making hats, gloves, and really all of the small baby items for Awamaki and The Little Market. “My older daughter inspires me; she likes to knit too and learn so many new things. […] She recycles things and makes them new, she taught herself from magazines.” When asked what she has learned from her children she mentions that there have been “so many things, mostly how to be a responsible mother, prepare them for school, cook, clean, and to work and earn money for us.” Something she hopes they learn from her? “More than anything to be hard workers, so that they can be better off than me,” she dreams.

Women like Francisca are an inspiration for female entrepreneurs out there across the globe. Every day she works hard to earn an income so that she can be independent and also raise her daughters to be as well. Francisca sees the value in educating girls, supporting them through their schooling, while also respecting and maintaining traditional cultural handicraft production.

Here at Awamaki we see first hand every day that the future is indeed female.