Total loan: $20,000
Manabi, Manabí Province, Ecuador / Retail
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A loan helped improve incomes for artisan women in rural Ecuador.
This loan may have a higher risk but higher impact. Learn more here. The toquilla straw hat (known by many as a "Panama hat") has broad global appeal and an intangible cultural heritage in Ecuador, its true country of origin. Weaving is done mostly by hand using techniques passed down through generations by artisan women living in rural communities in the Ecuadorian provinces of Manabi, Azuay, Canar, and Santa Elena. Despite the rich historical and cultural context, the current reality is that artisans are predominantly from peasant families who do not earn a fair, living wage for their craft. They are underpaid due to intermediaries - middlemen with market power who coerce artisans to sell their products below market value - and competition from cheap imitation products. Metiercrafts works directly with local artisans to preserve and elevate the ancient UNESCO heritage of toquilla hatweaving. Metiercrafts provides artisans with design templates, training support, equipment, and access to dyes that will sell in international markets. They buy the hats from the artisans at an average premium of 50%. To date, Metiercrafts has trained more than 200 artisans over the last three years. This Kiva loan of $20,000 will enable Metiercrafts to purchase additional equipment and develop an artisanal training workshop that will support 100 weavers next year.