Trabajo Para Un Hermano-Concepción

Levantando Chile is supporting Trabajo Para Un Hermano-Concepción to help local artisans purchase supplies and tools to restart their businesses and improve their livelihoods.

Trabajo Para Un Hermano-Concepción: Rebuilding businesses and establishing new points of sale

In May 2010, NESsT’s Levantando Chile began its first phase of support for artisans through Trabajo Para Un Hermano-Concepción (TPH). TPH staff has been meeting with artisans since the earthquake to assess exactly what type of support is needed in order to return to work and resume income generation.

A member of NESsT’s portfolio, Trabajo Para Un Hermano-Concepción provides training and support for microentrepreneurs out of its office in Concepción, and also runs a fair trade store in downtown Concepción, called Manos del Bío Bío, which sells products made by the artisans in its group.

Through Levantando Chile, artisans like Ramón Espinoza, whose property was severely damaged, will receive funds to rebuild and to purchase tools. Other artisans, who have had no income since the earthquake, will receive stipends to purchase supplies. NESsT will also help to find new markets for products outside the affected areas and to build back up Manos del Bío Bío’s capacity to attract clients and meet demands.

Before the earthquake, Ramón sold his wooden educational toys through three strategies: (1) Manos de Bío Bío, (2) his own shop, and (3) directly to schools. Due to the earthquake, most of his clients have lost their purcahsing power and his storefront will be inaccessible for months, so he needs to find new points of sale.

Paulina Irene Corrillo Navarro learned about TPH when it offered a sewing workshop near her house seven years ago. She was new to the area, and went to the workshop. She has been sewing hand puppets ever since and selling them at TPH’s Manos del Bío Bío store. The income from the sale of her puppets is critical now. Her husband, a fisherman, was forced to look for work in Valdivia, a town six hours south, because of the collapse of the fishing industry in his area after the earthquake. In spite of it all, Paulina continues to make bright pink rabbit puppets with big smiles.

NESsT is working closely with TPH-Concepción and artisans such as Ramón and Paulina to:

1. Open access to markets for products outside the affected area
NESsT will help TPH seek new points of sales in Santiago and other regions less affected by the earthquake. The earthquake and tsunami have obliterated the purchasing priorities and buying power of the majority of residents in and around the regions most affected by the earthquake and tsunami. The earthquake and tsunami also severely reduced tourism, a major source of customers for TPH artisans that sell traditional Chilean crafts. Levantando Chile is working closely with the directors of TPH to help the organization find new markets for its artisans’ products outside the region, both in other parts of Chile and around the world. This will include finding new points of sale in Santiago and strengthening relationships within the fair trade network.

2. Provide funding for Manos del Bió Bío
Unfortunately Manos del Bío Bío is located in the heart of downtown Concepción, in the most affected zone. Levantando Chile is providing one-time support to the store, to allow it to continue to purchase artisans’ products now that its revenue is down and it has a limited cash flow. This funding will provide immediate income to artisans with whom it has relationships, and build back up the supply of products.

3. Provide material and equipment to restore family income
Thanks to the first wave of generosity from donors around the world, Levantando Chile’s financial support for Trabajo Para Un Hermano-Concepción will help 28 artisans resume work by providing funds for rebuilding workshops and purchasing tools and supplies.

Levantando Chile’s initial contribution to TPH-Concepción will “stop the bleeding” and allow artisans to begin to rebuild their income. But it will be a long road before these artisans resume steady, sufficient income.

Levantando Chile is continuing to raise funds so TPH-Concepción will be able to offer financial planning trainings for artisans to help them learn how to climb out of debt incurred by this natural disaster.

NESsT’s goal is to leave the artisans of the region in even better conditions than before. Through the above efforts, Levantando Chile will provide critical financial support that will rebuild livelihoods and allow the people of Concepción to resume safe, healthy and productive lives.

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Levantando Chile
Felipe Cordero
Project Assistant, Levantando Chile
Santiago, Chile