MINKHA is a truly sustainable development success story that was initiated by Save the Children Canada. Since its beginning in 1992, the women have established a viable cooperative that has afforded them a means of providing for their children and their extended families. We support them 100%! We are totally NON PROFIT, and all the income from our sales is returned to the knitters. You will not only love your sweater, you will help us to make a difference for some very special people in Bolivia!
Since the early 1990’s, a small group of Quechua and Aymara women were organized by Save the Children – Bolivia into a co-operative knitting group. These women hand knit beautiful alpaca sweaters that are sold in North America. All profits are returned to the Bolivian women throught the efforts of Canadian volunteers.
These women were desperate to earn a living to support and care for their extended families. It is customary to have an extended family that may include parents, grandparents and other relatives, as well as children. In many cases a woman is the sole income earner for her family.
In addition to the financial rewards of the program, the women also enjoy a very positive social experience. They thrive on the customer feedback they receive for the superior quality of their knitting. The quality of life for these women and their families has improved significantly because of MINKHA. The number of share-holding knitters has tripled: now Artesanias Minkha essentially sustains 45 families. In 2004, the Cochabamba Chamber of Commerce honoured Artesanias Minkha with a plaque celebrating 15 years of business success… this is surely a first for native women.
To enhance the community of Bolivian knitters through sales organized volunteers in Canada.
Minkha Volunteers have a passion, a purpose larger than life, and one that goes beyond borders to help others succeed and grow within their own communities. Throughout the year, dedicated volunteers organize and help at not-for-profit sales, assisting customers and interested supporters. All profits of products are returned to the women knitters in Bolivia who use the money to support themselves, their communities and to continue on creating beautiful high quality hand knit products.
Bolivia: Geography and the People
Bolivia, officially known as the Plurinational State of Bolivia, is a landlocked country in central South America. It is bordered by Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina to the south, and Chile and Peru to the west.
Prior to European colonization, the Andean region of Bolivia was a part of the Inca Empire – the largest state in Pre-Columbian America. The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century. During most of the Spanish colonial period, this territory was called Upper Peru and was under the administration of the Viceroyalty of Peru, which included most of Spain’s South American colonies. After declaring independence in 1809, 16 years of war followed before the establishment of the Republic, named for Simón Bolívar, on 6 August 1825. Bolivia has struggled through periods of political instability, dictatorships and economic woes.
Bolivia is a Democratic Republic that is divided into nine departments. Its geography is varied from the peaks of the Andes in the West, to the Eastern Lowlands, situated within the Amazon Basin. It is a developing country, with a Medium Human Development Index score, and a poverty level around 60%. Its main economic activities include agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, and manufacturing goods such as textiles, clothing, refined metals, and refined petroleum. Bolivia is very wealthy in minerals, especially tin.
The Bolivian population, estimated at 10 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans, Asians and Africans. The main language spoken is Spanish, although the Aymara and Quechua languages are also common and all three, as well as 34 other indigenous languages, are official. The large number of different cultures within Bolivia has contributed greatly to a wide diversity in fields such as art, cuisine, literature, and music.
Bolivia was named for Simón Bolívar, a leader in the Spanish American wars of independence. Antonio José de Sucre had been given the option by Bolívar to either keep Upper Peru (present-day Bolivia) under the newly formed Republic of Peru, to unite with the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata, or to formally declare its independence from the Viceroyalty of Peru that had dominated most of the region. Sucre opted to create a new nation and, with local support, named it in honor of Simón Bolívar.
However, the original name given to the newly formed country was Republic of Bolívar. The name would not change to Bolivia until some days later when congressman Manuel Martín Cruz proposed: “If from Romulus comes Rome, then from Bolívar comes Bolivia.” The name stuck and was approved by the Republic on 3 October 1825.
In 2009, a new constitution changed the country’s name from the “Republic of Bolivia” to the “Plurinational State of Bolivia” in recognition of the multi-ethnic nature of the country and the enhanced position of Bolivia’s indigenous peoples under the new constitution.