Check out alpaca knit gloves, hats, and scarves in Global Exchange stores or online. Stores-only special: buy three of these items, get one free 11/26-12/24!
Andes Gifts, a Fair Trade Federation member, represents over 20 knitting cooperatives and 40 family-based knitting groups in the highlands of Bolivia and Peru, where few employment opportunities are available. Each piece of the alpaca knits is unique, and uses local raw material and traditional techniques.
Almost every Andes Gifts’ knitting co-operative and family-based knitting group work in their own homes, which reinforces and respects the local traditions of the area. Instead of flocking to a crowded city for work, families can stay intact and work at their own pace, in spacious and safe environments.
Andes Gifts provides Aymara and Quechua women with free instruction in knitting, computer and bookkeeping skills, and product design. Andes Gifts also provides micro loans to both individuals and groups of artisans. Over the last seven years, Andes Gifts has given over 150 no-interest loans, with a 98% payback rate. While other credit is available in rural Bolivia and Peru – some of the poorest regions in the Western hemisphere – the high interest rates often keep borrowers in continual debt.
The Aymara and Quechua women would like to say “gracias por darnos trabajo y esperanza,” which translated means “thank you for giving us work and hope.”