Numbers Magazine
starting-small-and-moving-towards-great-expectations

Starting Small, And Moving Towards Great Expectations

More than 40 years ago, because of an abundance of wool, 15 women from the Salinas parish, Bolívar province, began making thread and clothing, the same things that today are found in the Italian market thanks to the efforts of 80 artisans.

Redacción de NUMBERS
2016-07-05

Instagram facebook

More than 40 years ago, because of an abundance of wool, 15 women from the Salinas parish, Bolívar province, began making thread and clothing, the same things that today are found in the Italian market thanks to the efforts of 80 artisans.

This is the Association for Social Development of the Artisans Texsal Salinas, who had record sales in 2014 of 60.000 dollars; although this decreased in 2015 to 50.000. This year the organisation will focus on putting their products in Berlin (Germany), to strengthen their economy.

To do this, since last August they are working on strengthening their artisan activities and the diversification of their products through workshops for cutting and manufacturing, and with an additional plus to the emotional involvement from the Association itself through leadership classes which will hopefully attract the labour of 20 more women.

These projects have been carried out due to the fact that the Association belonging to the Salinas group, have joined projects developed by the Instituto Nacional de Economía Popular y Solidaria (IEPS) [National Institute of Popular and Solidarity Economies], an office whose job is to give support and guidance to the citizens in the entrepreneurial process, under the Law of Popular and Solidarity Economy.

During the past few years the Popular and Solidarity Economy (EPS) has gained strength as an alternative to the formal economy, although this is not a new economic model: an example of this is Texsal which has worked in the community for many decades.

“The effort made by the Textile Association is to offer an additional income to the women. They don’t work eight hours in the workshop since they have children to look after, animals to feed, etc. That we understand. It is an independent activity that doesn’t tie you down”, says Livia Salazar, legal representative of the Association.

Luis Ibarra, general coordinator of IEPS, indicated that to activate the Popular and Solidarity Economy during 2015, various plans were carried out such as the fairs network called Somos tus manos, Ecuador [We are your hands, Ecuador], “which had an in situ sales value of over 80.000 dollars, and of around 135.000 dollars after the fair ended”.

During Christmas there was a lot a business in the textile sector, also of additional complementary services and company presents. The items created during 2015 amounted to 85 million dollars in the public market, and in the private one 8,5 million.

Ibarra was able to prove using numbers the push which is being given to this sector; however Silvia Vega, a sociologist and university professor who is researching the Popular and Solidarity Economy, and also the popular economy in Ecuador and Bolivia as part of her doctorate, thinks that there are still loose threads and pending challenges in this activity.

Firstly she states that Ecuador carried out a combination between the popular economy and the solidarity economy, which are two different matters and “not always convergent”.

“The concept is a bit forced, it is trying to put everything into one package, i.e. that the popular economies turned into solidarity ones, and the other way around”, she indicated. The popular economy is that one which is being created in an informal environment, or through mechanisms of self-employment which have a personal or familiar nature; on the other hand, the solidarity economy as is indicated by the word itself, is based on the principles of solidarity and equity over the benefits, which are different to the principles of the capitalist and socialist economies, and thus “are being held by real social networks”.

Nevertheless Ibarra thinks that this sector is now ready to offer its services and products, having a goal of public purchases of 95 million dollars for 2016; it contributes to this objective the encouragement of the public entities to buy from them because their product has quality and also because they are conscious that they offer work opportunities to many families.

“This doesn’t mean that we don’t value the contribution of the private sector”. For example, with Hilando el desarrollo [Spinning towards development], Ibarra indicates, work is not being taken away from the private sector since they provide the material to the artisans who then manufacture products.

In this way Vega the sociologist indicates that in the Ecuadorian National Development Plan 2013-2017, although the solidarity economy is mentioned, it loses its role as a vehicle towards a new economic system since this type of economy “can only come out ahead to the extent that it becomes a part of the capitalist economy”.

“The state should help the farmers so that they produce and then sell their products later without there being any third party to market them, since then the sense of the solidarity economy is lost”, she indicates.

THE REFORMS TO THE LAW OF POPULAR AND SOLIDARITY ECONOMY
The coordinator Luis Ibarra points out that in the present EPS Law “there are some contradictions as in all kinds of legislation; there are things that will change because there are two large sectors: the real EPS sector in which we are working, and the matter of S&L associations”.

As a researcher, Vega has maintained dialogues with populations who practice this economy, and indicates that this sector “feels that the government entities place them in a straitjacket”, since the “EPS does not need a large bureaucracy forcing it to work in accordance to the parameters managed by the state”. Therefore “the law must be adjusted to the needs of the sectors involved”, she indicates.

WHAT IS EXPECTED FOR THE YEAR 2016?
Luis Ibarra comments that for the year 2016 the already established programme will be strengthened. “We are going to continue working along the same lines as in 2015, but during 2016 what we are going to bet on is fair trade”, says this functionary. Added on to these goals is the search for foreign markets so that the organisation directly exports without any need for a third party.

Vega indicates that it is also very important the economic support in great amounts, “because the small amounts are useful for the popular economy, but the solidarity economies which are being promoted need thousands of dollars so that they succeed outside of the market chain”.

Meantime the representative of Texsal Salinas feels that the governmental work is a satisfactory one since it increases the employment, “something which has not been seen for a long time”. She thinks that the pending matter is the flexibility in the demands of the counter parties involved, since it turns out to be complicated to get access to credit to cover various different amounts of money.

.........................................

20.000 jobs, 6.400 popular units, and 1.146 organisations benefited from the services of the IEPS in 2015

Instagram facebook

 

RELATED