Bolivia: Knitting Opportunities of Development
This month our country of focus is Bolivia, where World Vision’s Strong Women, Strong World initiative is providing financial training, services and savings groups for women entrepreneurs in Bolivia. Loans are offered to disadvantaged Bolivians, allowing them to generate income through agriculture, raising livestock, neighborhood services, and local trade. The following story was contributed by Jenny Escobar, World Vision Bolivia.
In Bolivia, women are responsible of raising their children and household chores. Involved in a patriarchal culture where the man provides the money and owns the land, women rarely have the opportunity to earn their own money or get a credit.
Through World Vision´s Economic Development and Productive Formation project, a group of women have found an economic alternative by knitting colorful threads to support their families.
World Vision is promoting women´s empowerment by offering them equipment and the opportunity to learn about business and improve their knitting techniques. Thanks to trainings on entrepreneurship, marketing and business administration, women have formed their own knitting associations and now, they sell their products to customers in surrounding cities. As a result, they are improving the living conditions of their families.
Although the project was originally intended for both genders, World Vision Bolivia has promoted it among women in order to achieve gender equality.
The women have learned how to use a knitting machine. World Vision provides machines and materials which can be used by the association´s members and those who don´t have their own machine at home.
“It is hard for women to have [financial] credibility to make payments because we don´t have businesses or stores that could guarantee the credits,” says Lidia Llano, a 44-year-old mother of four and President of the association. She continues “[As women,] we have to resign with small loans which [are not enough] to buy materials or machines.”
The association successfully sells clothing; women offer blouses, sweaters, scarves and hats, among other products in fairs and at present they are working on getting their brand and labels for a better product presentation. Women weave on looms and make macramé as well.
“Ladies come [to the workshop] on different schedules. One group comes in the morning and other in the afternoon,” says Lidia. “I am a single mother. I started [to knit] six years ago and it has helped me to educate my children. I used to make and sell flowers but I started to like knitting and I bought a machine to make a faster delivery of products,” she explains.
Hand-knitting was common among these women; they used to earn US$42 to 84 per month, now, they have doubled their production and have learned how to establish a fair price for their work.
This women´s association currently benefits 45 children. Their mothers now have money for their food, health, clothing and education needs.