In 2010 I created the whole content of a campaign called “Harmony Peoples” for the Red Cross, on economic alternatives of indigenous people in Ecuador and Bolivia. At that time I met in Ecuador Rosa Guaman, an extraordinary woman, community leader and director of Jambi Kiwa, a company that produces, processes and exports medicinal plants worldwide. I was dazzled by Rosa’s words, that expressed the spirit a successful development project must have, but I also felt impressed by her capacity to analyze the effects of consumerism, on our environment of course, but also on our minds.

I have now added English subtitles to the video of Rosa’s interview, so if you are a development professional, or simply a person who has doubts about our own development model’s sustainability, don’t lose a word of Rosa’s interview, she is inspiring! (5 min. video – clic on “captions” icon under the image to activate subtitles).

The business success of a group of women

“We don’t generate pity, we generate employment!”. Rosa Guamán, managing director, Jambi Kiwa.
“We don’t generate pity, we generate employment!”. Rosa Guamán, managing director, Jambi Kiwa.

Jambi Kiwa was born as a cooperative founded by women led by Rosa Guaman, in order to grow, process and sell medicinal and aromatic plants. It brings together more than 600 families in the Chimborazo region that benefit from better economic income from the sale of products in the domestic and international market through fair trade networks. In 2003, Jambi Kiwa won the “Successful women-led ventures Latin American Award” (REPEM, Uruguay).

What has made these women so successful? The use of specific indigenous knowledge, traditional forms of community activity, a strong spirit of resistance and an extraordinary vision.

An economic, social, cultural, health and ecological project.

In the indigenous approach of development, economic benefits are not considered “development” if they imply imbalances in other areas of life and society or in the environment. So the aims of Jambi Kiwa are not only income generation for the families, but also:

Jambi Kiwa's processing factory in Riobamba. The entire process of plant's growing and transformation is natural. The products are made on the basis of Andean medicine recipes.
Jambi Kiwa’s processing factory in Riobamba. The entire process of plant’s growing and transformation is natural. The products are made on the basis of Andean medicine recipes.
– Recovering and reasserting the worth of the ancestral knowledge of plant growing: organic and quality production of endemic crop only.
– Recover and reassert the worth of the Andean Medicine : Jambi Kiwa is also al school of Andean Medicine.
– Educate and alphabetize and train partners coming from rural areas.
– Respect gender equality and children.
– Preserve the environment by eradicating deforestation and clearing by fire.
– Encourage efforts, mutual aid and equitable involvement of its partners in development efforts.

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