Community Programs

Awamaki's Social Impact

Co-creating Change

Our Approach

Awamaki is a community-driven social enterprise working in deep collaboration with Quechua artisans. Together we create grassroots programs to support and grow women-led cooperatives through heritage textiles, market access, and sustainable tourism. 

Sustainable Impact

We aim to help women’s cooperatives learn to start and run their own businesses.

We do this through our programs in women’s artisanal cooperatives and sustainable tourism. Our partner cooperatives weave, knit, spin and sew. We offer training in quality control, product development and technical skills improvement.

Artisan Cooperatives

We partner with women in rural Andean communities to offer training and market access so they can grow their businesses creating and selling their heritage textiles, yarn, and handknit pieces. We work alongside our artisan partners to create designs that draw on traditional motifs while layering contemporary style. We offer training in quality control, product development, financial management and business leadership. Awamaki operates a store in Ollantaytambo, an online store and a wholesale program to sell the artisans’ work. Our program aims to not only offer market access through our own sales channels, but also to equip our partner cooperatives to forge new client relationships and grow businesses that are independent of Awamaki.

Sustainable Tourism

Awamaki’s program in sustainable tourism strives to create opportunities for artisan women in rural Andean communities to host visitors and benefit from tourism on their own terms. We support our artisan partners in starting and improving their own tourism programs by offering training in tourism market understanding, cooking for tourists, and demonstrating the weaving process. The artisans create a rotation system to benefit all cooperative members and set hours and days of availability, and work with Awamaki to set guidelines for photography in their community. Awamaki’s sustainable tourism program supports the artisans in facilitating and booking these visits, and ensuring artisans benefit from the tourism that they host regardless of whether they sell weavings. Awamaki works with several artisan cooperatives in tourism, as well as a group of Spanish teachers and Andean cooking teachers in Ollantaytambo.

Travel With Us

Awamaki offers authentic travel experiences for independent and group travelers that connects visitors to the Sacred Valley and the artisans in its Quechua communities.

Come experience traditional Andean life, connect with Quechua artisans, and participate in an immersive experience organized by the communities themselves.

What is sustainable tourism?

Sustainable tourism is the practice of tourism in a way that respects and strengthens the destination or host community. Sustainable tourism invests in the families that live in a host community, and offers economic opportunity to those who are often marginalized by or excluded from tourism. At Awamaki, our sustainable tourism program works in deep collaboration with indigenous women and their families to provide direct access to the economic benefits from tourism.

Sustainable tourism also strengthens appreciation for the cultural heritage and environment of the destination community. Rather than undermining cultural practices, sustainable tourism respectfully elevates and values local traditions. For example, in the communities where Awamaki works, sustainable tourism offers women the opportunity to earn an income by sharing their deep knowledge of weaving and fiber arts, instead of working in a hotel or a job in a nearby city that is removed from their community.

Years ago, tourism to the indigenous villages where we work was disorganized and chaotic. Without a tourist reception center, guides brought tourists to the village to wander the paths, even peeking into people’s homes to take pictures. Visits were not planned in advance, so when tourists arrived, women dropped everything they were doing–cooking, weaving, parenting–to run to meet the tourists in the hopes they would sell a weaving, but if they didn’t, there was no compensation for the time they took from their day. The economic benefit of tourism was uneven and unreliable. Visitors disrupted and eroded key parts of village life. Meanwhile, women had few options to earn money in the village, as paying jobs were located in towns several hours away.

At Awamaki, we have worked with artisan partners to design a tourism program that is beneficial to indigenous communities and meaningful for tourists. Artisans know in advance when tourists will arrive, and they have created a rotation system to ensure that everyone has a chance to benefit from the visits. We have supported our artisan partners in creating comfortable spaces to host tourists, and worked with them to set guidelines for respectful photography. Through our program, artisans are compensated for their time hosting tourists whether or not the tourists buy weavings. Overall, visitors enjoy a much calmer and more meaningful experience, with an opportunity to truly connect with their host community. Artisans and their families are able to earn an income while valuing their heritage and keeping their communities intact.

What is cultural sustainability?

Cultural sustainability is the ability of members of a cultural community to maintain their beliefs, language, dress, arts and knowledge; to live in a way that enables them to continue these cultural practices; and to pass these cultural practices to their children and grandchildren. Cultural sustainability is not necessarily a strict preservation of cultural practices, but the ability of community members to practice and pass along their heritage, while adapting to the ways in which those identities evolve within the community’s collective ethos.

Cultural sustainability does not always look the way that outsiders to a village may expect it to look. For example, as families earn more money, they often update their traditional homes, made from stone and thatch, to newer structures with concrete walls and tiled roofs. Some in the village think this represents a loss of important cultural practice; others believe that modern conveniences are a sign of prosperity and a healthy future for the community. No matter where you are in the world, culture is messy and there isn’t always a clear, correct path forward for a group of people who share a culture.