Meet the local nonprofit working with indigenous Mapuche communities in Chile to support local economic development and preserve an ancient culture.
Who Are They?
Fundacion Chol Chol is made up of a small team of local social workers, development practitioners and business professionals, most of whom are Mapuche themselves. They are united in their mission to help rural Mapuche communities achieve economic empowerment through the fair and sustainable commercialisation of traditional artisanal products.
"I want to preserve the Mapuche traditions, keep our culture alive"
"I was able to raise my sons as a single mother with money from weaving"
Why is their work so important?
Most indigenous Mapuche communities are located in rural areas and have poor access to stable income and education.
The rapid modernisation of Chile is resulting in the loss of many important aspects of this once pervasive 3000 year old culture.
Women in Chile are often marginalised from the workforce by deep-seeded gender norms, particularly in rural areas.
What do they do?
Fundacion Chol Chol helps local indigenous women secure economic independence, promoting their position within the local community as income earners. They provide women with business training, loans and personalised support to help them produce and sell traditional artisans through the foundations local fair-trade stores.
Access to reasonable income
Prior to Chol Chol's existence, many local women would travel up to three hours to sell their goods in the nearest town. With transport proving costly and sales leverage being low, many women often failed to break even after accounting for the cost of travel and wool. With production taking up to 15 hours per piece, the practice of weaving was quickly diminishing. Thanks to their fair-trade store, Fundacion Chol Chol can now ensure a fair price for goods, providing a regular and predictable income for local women.
Training a new generation
A share of the profits from goods sold through the flagship Fundacion Chol Chol fair-trade store are re-invested into workshops to train young local women in the art of traditional weaving. In this way, the foundation hopes to help preserve important aspects of the Mapuche culture, training a new generation of young local women in the production of clothes, blankets and traditional artworks.
What do locals think?
"My husband is a great support, but it is nice to make my own money"
"It is great to know that my baby can stay in the nursery whilst I learn"
Mapuche Weaver and Trainer
"As a single mother, I would have been unable to support my son without the support of Fundacion Chol Chol"
Trainee Mapuche Weaver
"I am so fortunate to be able to learn about my culture from Isabel"
"My husband is a great support, but it is nice to have my own income"