“We don’t generate pity, we generate employment!”

“We don’t generate pity, we generate employment!”

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.


Changing lives with a lamp: Ewans Wadongo brilliant idea.

Changing lives with a lamp: Ewans Wadongo brilliant idea.

I would like to resume posting in this blog with this beautiful and inspiring project.

If you don’t know it yet, put your sunglasses on, you are going to be dazzled! Young Kenyan engineer Ewans Wadongo brings together intelligence, creativity and beauty, in a very simple and sustainable way to fight poverty: a solar lamp.

If like me you have fallen in love with Ewans’ idea, you can act by:
>> Like Just One Lamp on Facebook

>> Donate to the project (before the end of the year) through globalgiving.org website

>> Like and Share this post around you through Likes and Share buttons at the bottom of this post.

En español : http://cultura.elpais.com/cultura/2013/10/18/actualidad/1382116066_939172.html
In english :

Travelling for holiday? try comunity based tourism!

Travelling for holiday? try comunity based tourism!

Livichuco community is located in the Bolivian Altiplano, near Challapata in the Oruro province. It is a small village located in what was once the colonial road between Oruro, Potosi and Sucre. At that time, Livichuco was a “Tambo”, ie a place where travelers stopped to rest and relax. Today it could be a destination for people who would like to completely disconnect from they daily life during holiday… Livichuco looks like a place that has been suspended in time, in the middle of the desert.

Livichuco is one of the places you can discover through the excellent Tusoco Network, a Bolivian Community-based Fair Tourism Network.

The Tusoco Network is a non-profit association, which is formed by the Bolivian community-based fair tourism organisations and is managed by them. All over the country, from the Amazonian rainforest up to the Andean peaks, from the most tusistic locations (Salar de Uyuni, Titicaca Lake…) to the most remoted and unnown places, indigenous and peasant communities have created organisations that offer discovering of the natural, historical and cultural indigenous heritage, while strengthening indigenous peoples identities and developing communities in a sustainable way.

Tourism helps these communities dynamize activities such as handicraft and services for the travellers – lodging, food, guiding or transportation – parallel to their traditional agricultural or mining production activities.

The inhabitants of Aymara origin from the Livichuco community give the tourists the opportunity to stay for a few days to share their way of life, to discover how they make the Andean fabrics or to hike on an ancient Inca trail.

Watch the video to discover this very singular place…

See Livichuco from the air: Clic here

More information
Watch the pictures gallery, in Pobles Harmonia.

Indigenous peoples economics : Quinoa in Bolivia

Indigenous peoples economics : Quinoa in Bolivia

Quinoa, once contemptuously called “Indian food”, has an increasing demand in Europe, U.S. and Japan.

Quinoa is a cereal with an exceptional nutritional balance, which makes it a particularly complete food for the human diet and human development. For this reason, demand for Quinoa is growing in Western markets, and Bolivia has positioned itself as the leading exporter. The National Association of Quinoa Producers, ANAPQUI plays a fundamental role in organic production of quinoa.

Watch the video
Clic on CC to enable/disable english subtitles

More information:
“Harmony Peoples”, photo gallery on Quinoa and ANAPQUI
The indigenous approach of developement

The indigenous approach of developement

The indigenous approach of developement

The economic rationality of indigenous peoples is not accumulation, but harmonious relationship with the environment.

During the Minga, an ancient tradition of collective work, people work for the benefit of the community, but also enjoy time together. (Midwives met in Minga for cultivating medicinal plants · Cotacachi · Ecuador Photo Alejo Cock)

From a western point of view, the concept of development is understood mainly as “economic development”, that is to say an improvement in material conditions of life. Whilst for many indigenous cultures, development is the search for harmony.

In the kichwa language there is no word that translates “Development” in the western sense of the world. The translation would be closer to “the fulfilment of a full life”, which is “Sumak Kawsay”.

In the Andean vision, “Sumak Kawsay” is the balance between Munaj [the economical dimension], Yachay [the learning, knowledge dimension]. Thus we can say that “development” and “sub-development” in the western sense are not adequate concepts in the vision of indigenous peoples.

Today “Sumak Kawsay” appears in the new constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador. It is the first time that a notion that expresses ancestral practices of cohabitation, which are respectful of nature and of human beings, is out lined as the “must-be” of a society.

“ I don’t feel under-developed or poor…. because I have my lore, my culture, my behaviour, my environment, my land……so I don’t see how anyone could consider me as being under-developed”
Cesar Pilataxi Ecuadorean leader

In the XXI century, the challenge for the indigenous peoples is to live in this globalised world without giving up their worldview or their identity.

Offering to the "Pachamama" or Mother Earth, to thank for giving us life: water, food and plants for health. (Equinox Day · Cotacachi · Ecuador · Photo Alix de Roten)

Despite centuries of oppression, many indigenous cultures have survived. In the XXI Century native people are still fighting to protect their ancestral lands, natural resources, cultural practices and languages. The exploitation (oil companies, mines, timber industry, gas industry…) on their lands, deforestation, assimilation policies or prejudice are some of the threats facing them.

But this century also carries new hopes: on one hand in some sectors of society, the indigenous proposals on development have been welcomed, as can be seen from the high participation of the indigenous peoples in the World Social Forum in Belém do Pará, Brazil, in January 2009. On the other hand, on a legal level, the approval, in 2007, of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, that protects the right of these peoples to “freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”, is an important international recognition of the secular struggle of native people. These changes open new horizons for the development of indigenous models in the field of economics, culture, education, health, politics, etc.

In the next posts, we we will publish examples of current economic initiatives that have their roots in the history and tradition of the indigenous peoples. As well as presenting a major opportunity for the future of these people, and are an effective way of dealing with the global challenges of the XXI century, which unbridled consumerism and the ensuing imbalance in the global ecosystem not to mention exacerbating social inequalities.

The girls at the Intercultural Bilingual School "Amauta Ñaupi" live from young the intimate relationship that a person should have with nature. (Amauta Ñaupi · Puyo · Ecuador · Photo Alejo Cock)

This work on the indigenous approach of developement is part of a global investigation I made for the Red Cross’ campaign “Harmony Peoples” indigenous approaches in a global world.

Bankomunal : how communities can be self-financed

Bankomunal : how communities can be self-financed

FUNDEFIR (Rural Finance Foundation) is a Venezuelan foundation, which has been working for 14 years developing a methodology to provide financial services to communities and individuals excluded from the formal financial system. FUNDEFIR’s model, called Bankomunales, is based on the exclusive use of funds from members of the community, as a source of funding.

The old informal system of communal savings, with more benefits

In many communities in Latin America and Africa, the problem is not so much the lack of income than its irregularity. To solve this problem, informal mechanisms have been traditionally used in these communities to meet the needs of credit and savings: each person in the group gives money to a communal fund, from which anyone can ask for a loan if needed, and return the money according to pre-established conditions.

The Bankomunales’ system is based on this old common fund mechanism, but the novelty is that local funds are not only” savings deposits”, but “micro investments”, through which participants buy shares of the organization and benefit from a return on investment. The new model not only allows access to financial services, but also provides financial education and community organization.

Learning from the failures in the traditional microcredit system

The system of microcredits granted by banks is being criticized today by some analysts as well as by the Prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheik Hasina Wazed, who consider that most borrowers do not appear to be climbing out of poverty, and that a sizable minority is getting trapped in a spiral of debt. With the Bankomunales system, the benefits from the microcredits are reverted to the community. “The community members are the owners of the money so they get double benefit: the use they made of it and the interest. And this causes a strong change of mentality” Raydán Solomon says, the social entrepreneur at the front of this initiative (1).

“Muhammad Yunnus taught the world that the poor people could be financed. We have shown that they can be self-financed.” he adds, defining his project.

A model for international experiment.

Currently, there are about two hundred Bankomunales in eleven states of Venezuela. Repayment rates are of 99% and the success of the model has led to its export to five countries on three continents: Spain, Senegal, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia.

More information
In Spain : Comunidades Autofinanciadas CAF