“As individuals we sometimes can’t achieve the things we want to, but by uniting as a group we are stronger.” As a teenager, Narcisa Cruz Sosa from Chulucanas in the north of Peru supported her mother with ceramics handicraft work. Narcisa, 48, now dominates the techniques that today make her a recognized ceramics artisan.
Narcisa set up her own association in 2008, she explains: “We started out with eight women and now we just keep on growing.” The association has won multiple quality awards and the group uses clay techniques inherited from the Tallán and Vicús cultures.
The association has since benefited from the support of CARE. Narcisa explains: “CARE offers a lot of training for women entrepreneurs covering leadership, self-esteem, how to work with buyers, developing business ideas and more. Through the training I have learned many new business skills including how to develop proper systems which helps me to track my cash flow and to manage supply and demand. I now better understand if we are earning or losing money with our products and I have a much clearer idea on costs. Going to training isn’t wasting time, it’s investing time.”
As with many artisans in her community, COVID-19 is having a destructive impact: “My business has completely stopped, we are not producing anything. We cannot buy the materials for our business and nobody is going to buy ceramics at the moment, the most important thing is food. Thankfully, CARE taught us how to save, so I have a little nest egg to keep us going for now.”
Narcisa adds: “Thanks to the training, my self-esteem has really grown and I now have a bigger voice to speak out. Before, I was afraid of being a business woman, but now I value my own work. The training has been a really good opportunity for our members to know that they can progress and get their products to more people.”
CARE has also linked the association with regional and local Government fairs and other events. Narcisa adds: “This gives us a lot of exposure. Through the fairs we have also been able to meet other artisans who have different and better experiences that we can learn from. Our association has now written to the Municipality asking for food parcels for those artisans most affected by COVID-19.”
Pre COVID-19, the women received seed capital from CARE, enabling them to buy kilns and other equipment for their workshop. CARE also supported the women to register a collective brand, enabling them to collectively strengthen their reach and income.
Narcisa is now President of the ‘Consortium of Women Entrepreneurs of Piura’ which represents 21 associations of women entrepreneurs, with 300 members. It was in this capacity that she spoke at an event in the Netherlands in 2019, organised by CARE with the Dutch Government and Swedish Embassy, on access to finance for women entrepreneurs. She explains: “I want to let people know that women are capable of starting and growing their own businesses and contributing to their communities.”
As Narcisa continues to see her influence broaden across the globe, she recognises the value of working together: “As individual people we sometimes can’t achieve the things we want to, but by uniting as a group we are stronger.”
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