Chipaota Artisan Project
As the Piassaba project in Chipaota developed, a group of community members, mostly women, identified an economic opportunity in the commercialization of their traditional forest handicrafts, sourced from natural products of the rainforest. In 2009, they requested Rainforest Partnership's assistance for the development and implementation of such a project and since that time, Rainforest Partnership has worked with the group to produce high quality handicraft items. The community members created the "Allima Wask" aritsan group and Rainforest Partnership now works with them to create a successful business and market their products.
About the Community
Chipaota is an indigenous community of about 1,000 people with nearly 15,000 acres of community-titled land bordering Cordillera Azul National Park in the Amazonian region of northern Peru. This region is home to the Piassaba palm, an endemic species of this region of Peru. For many years, the community of Chipaota earned its primary income by selling the fibers of the Piassaba palm in the local market, but as the population of Chipaota grew, more and more residents sought to make a living by selling the fibers. The Piassaba palm began to be overexploited and the population of this unique palm in the area began to drop sharply.
In June of 2010, RP designed a studio to exhibit and store handicrafts made by the women, which is currently under construction. Over the last few years, RP has worked with a group of 15 women to make their products more unique and distinctive in order to create a product that buyers will recognize as being made in Chipaota and to ensure a competitive edge over others offering similar products. In order to achieve this, Alima Waska members have been taking part in a series of workshops being conducted by RP, addressing quality control, business management and new artisan techniques. RP has worked with the group to create a logo to further brand recognition and the popularity of the product. Importantly, this project has acted as source of empowerment for the group, especially the women, because it has provided them with their own income source that values their knowledge and skills.
In 2012, Rainforest Partnership, together with Alima Waska, will identify distribution channels in Lima and the nearby town of Tarapoto. RP will also develop a marketing strategy, including labeling of products with the Alima Waska logo, and work with the women to further develop their marketing and business skills. RP is also planning the remodel of the second floor of the artisan studio to turn it into a hostel where visitors can stay.