2016 Rising Star Cooperative Member: Rosa Benitez

At first glance Rosa Benitez Mondaca doesn’t look like a risk taker. However, her secret for success is just that – she’s not afraid to try new things. This willingness to step outside of her comfort zone has paid off for Rosa, who is now producing knitwear orders for an independent client in Cusco.

Rosa looks like a mom more than anything – a fact of which she is proud. Her nineteen-year-old son is in university in Cusco studying anthropology. She also has a sweet fourteen-year-old daughter who is disabled and stays home with her. When asked why she originally started working with Awamaki and the Puente Inca cooperative four years ago, she said “to help support my children more.”

Rosa’s husband works full-time on their chakra, or farm. Because of this she lives far from the center of Puente Inca but is one of the most punctual members of the cooperative. Rosa doesn’t mind making the long journey for group meetings because of the chance to receive new orders and learn from the group. She is always encouraging her fellow cooperative members to learn new techniques and take on challenging orders, something they are hesitant to do. “When they don’t know how to do something, they don’t want to take the risk,” mentioned Rosa.

When the owner of Hilo, a clothing store in Cusco, approached Awamaki asking if we knew of anyone who could knit custom sweaters on occasion, one candidate stood out. While the other members of Puente Inca might still be hesitant to take on a client like this, we knew Rosa was up for the job because of her consistent involvement with the cooperative and openness to new opportunities. She gladly accepted the position!

Even though Rosa has found success working independently with a client, she doesn’t want to leave her cooperative behind. As the new year approaches, she hopes to help her fellow knitters learn new techniques, become comfortable with challenging orders, and work together as a group to take on an independent client.

Personally, Rosa hopes to use her extra income to finish her house in 2017. She also hopes to continue to support her daughter and son in whatever they need next year. For her dedication to her family, her cooperative, and her work, we are honored to congratulate Rosa as the 2016 Rising Star Cooperative Member.

About Awamaki

Awamaki is a nonprofit fair trade social enterprise dedicated to connecting Andean artisan weavers with global markets. We collaborate with women artisans to support their efforts towards educational and financial independence by co-creating beautifully handcrafted knit and woven accessories using hertiage techniques.