What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?
Lack of commercial spots: In order to increase sales and the number of participating communities, it is crucial to have more spots. This will be solved with Law 4499´s application in the Rio Negro’s region and with the generation of partnerships within the Patagonia, seeking financing for their construction.
Spot’s sustainability: The Estepa Market (Mercado de la Estepa) is a non-profit organization that retains 10% of the sales for building’s maintenance. We proved that the demand for autochthonous art craft does exist: In the year 2004 we sold $42,000 and in 2010 the figure rose to $250,000 (over USD 60,000).
Distance between communities: We generated assistance for producers through partnerships with different organizations working in the territory. Examples: INTA, the provincial and national governments.
Urban-rural migration: It decreases with the development of opportunities in the territory, generating sales opportunities for local production.
Lack of access to raw materials (wool): We generated a Supplies Charity Fund which provides wool fleeces for craft women. Then they give back the fleece equivalent cost with spun wool (the rest is produced by them). The relation is: 1 wool fleece costs $30 and they can take over 3 kilos of spun wool from it, which costs between $100/150 per kilo (between USD 25/40). In this way, there is an exchange of work instead of a monetary exchange, and the money needed to buy more fleeces is recovered from sales. Simultaneously, they sell spun wool and the craft women’s own products. The Charity Fund facilitates their access to raw materials, in order to let craft women generate their own production.
Production’s quality: It is perfected through training between craft women of the communities, with cultural exchange and socialization of knowledge.
Tell us about your partnerships
Estepa Market-Surcos Patagonicos Partnership
Inter-institutional Agreement between the Estepa Market, Surcos Patagonicos, INTA and Subsecretary of Family Agriculture (Subsecretaria de Agricultura Familiar).
Other local institutions:
INTA: Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (National Institute of Agricultural Technology)
INTI: Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Industrial (National Institute of Industrial Technology)
Argentina’s Social Development Ministry
Argentina’s Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Ministry: Subsecretariat of Family Agriculture
Vicaría de la Fraternidad del Obispado de Viedma (Viedma’s bishopric)
Solidarity Regional Market (San Antonio Oeste)
Arte de Pueblos
Gente Nueva Foundation
Radio Nacional Bariloche
Somuncura Women’s Cooperative
Wool-related cooperatives in the area
Legislature of the province of Rio Negro
Provincial ministries: Production and Family, specifically.
Town councils and promotion commissions in the province.
Groups that work with micro-credits along with the Social Development Ministry.
Provincial and national art craft workers organizations.
Explain your selections
The Estepa Market is a spot that financially sustains itself with production sales, retaining 10% of income. The other 90% goes directly to each producer.
The financial support requested is destined to projects management, developed through partnerships, mainly with the state sector, seeking financing and the commitment from the provinces and the country towards the rural population. In our case, we focus on the individual’s strengthening through the cultural knowledge of textile art craft work, which was usually not considered a decent job. From this place, we defend the families’ dignity and financial sustainability so that hey can stay in their territory without needing to migrate, developing work instead of welfare-dependence.
Productive chain closes its cycle with production’s direct sale to consuming customers. It is for this reason that it is necessary to increase the number of commercial spots.
Non-financial support is particularly provided by INTA (a national government’s entity) which, teamed-up with Surcos Patagonicos, devotes to the assistance and promotion of the territory’s communities, with constant improvement and production development.
How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?
The Estepa Market plans to increase production, quality and sales by generating more commercial spots and developing a visibility campaign.
Currently, we count with another sales spot in Buenos Aires called Arte de Pueblos (working with two foundations that work on fair commerce with native communities from the North of Argentina).
We will develop two more associative markets in the province of Rio Negro, consolidating the “Mercado Regional Solidario” market (located in the west area, which works similarly to the Estepa market) and building one more in the northern area (Alto Valle, for which there already are partnerships being established with the INTA, producers and different State’s entities).
This process is framed within the development of and compliance with Law No. 4499.
At the same time, from the “patagonic” point of view, we are supporting a project that currently boosts the construction of an associative commerce spot in the town of El Calafate (province of Santa Cruz). We expect to articulate soon with art craft workers organizations and institutions in order to build another market in the town of Puerto Madryn (province of Chubut).