Who: I started studying the South American Andes when I was 19 years old and spent time working with artisans in a leprosy home in Guayaquil, Ecuador. I remained fascinated with indigenous craft, culture, and language in Northern South and Central America. Curiosity and respect led me down both an academic and professional career on the topic.
In 2013 I was funded to explore mobile banking for sustainability and best practices in fashion industry supply chains and informal indigenous artisan networks. Access to commercial financial opportunities, was and still remains a barrier for indigenous trade networks. Exposure to new opportunities through technology, communication, and finance could change the networks experience with burgeoning consumer markets domestically and abroad.
I partnered with Paul Weaver, retired, decorated Airforce General and together we have been building our work throughout the region.
What: What struck me in Peru and Guatemala was the economic power of the indigenous women and their business networks. The Inca and Maya are remembered for their complex trade routes and enterprising empires. However, what is little talked about in history is that the heart of the economy comes from the work of the women and their networks.
I started this non-profit to add-value to high-quality, traditional artisans so that they could leverage networks through technology, data analytics, local and global connections, and social media marketing to bring themselves onto a global stage without the middleman.