Quechuas, Aymaras, Ashaninkas and many other Amazon Indigenous Peoples constitute Peru’s indigenous communities. These communities face particular economic challenges that are different from other non-indigenous demographics. In 2022, 38.5% of indigenous people were declared to be in poverty. Limited access to education, health care, discrimination and loss of lands and resources are some of the reasons leading to the increase in poverty among Peru’s native people.
Supporting Indigenous Businesses
Businesses in Peru’s indigenous economy mainly focus on agriculture, tourism and the selling of cosmetics and handicrafts like jewelry, ceramics, textiles, etc. In recent years, the Peruvian government has increased its efforts to put indigenous businesses in the spotlight. This is significant since native-owned businesses tend to be overshadowed by non-indigenous ones. For instance, in 2022 the government hosted a training program in partnership with the Australian Embassy called “Growing Indigenous Businesses Through Trade.” It was funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in partnership with Treasury and the National Indigenous Australians Agency. The program covered topics such as exports, identifying markets, intellectual property rights, innovative business models and business pitches.
Funding Women-Led Entrepreneurship
In November 2022, the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation financed 15 different female-led organizations as a part of the “Rural and Indigenous Women Entrepreneurship Strategy” (RIWES). The money spent on each organization ranged from £12,844 to £31,467, and it came from the Rural and Indigenous Women Entrepreneurship Fund, which has been approved to continue on for 2023. A few of the winning organizations include Santa Rosa Moquegache Japo Women’s Association for Dairy Produce, Native Community Palma Real’s Association of Female Artisans and the Esperanza del Bosque Cooperative. These organizations are able to boost Peru’s Indigenous Economy by providing sustainable business opportunities for producers to increase their income.
NGOs Supporting Entrepreneurs
Besides the funding of entrepreneurship, the RIWES will develop programs on business plans, technical assistance and agricultural technology management. It is estimated that 4,700 rural and indigenous female entrepreneurs will benefit from the RIWES’s continuation in 2023. Several NGOs support indigenous entrepreneurship as well. Additionally, Awamaki partnered with eight women-led, Andean artisan cooperatives to help them launch their products successfully in the global market. They offer these cooperatives training on quality control, product development, financial management and business leadership.
Peruvian NGO AIDER stresses the importance of entrepreneurship for Peru’s indigenous economy, stating that it leads to social inclusion, economic security and quality improvement. Besides, indigenous leadership can help ensure the preservation of the environment’s natural resources and sustainable development. Many communities such as Callería, Roya, Junín Pablo, Buenos Aires, Nuevo Loreto and Pueblo Nuevo have officially committed to environment-friendly practices and obtained certification from the Forest Stewardship Council. Finally, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an organization focused on improving the economic conditions of small-scale producers located in Peru’s northern and southern highlands region. With a total of 12 projects and an investment of 244.36 million dollars, the IFAD is estimated to have a reach of over 180,000 Peruvian households.
The sustained expansion of indigenous businesses could translate into a major source of economic progress for Peru’s indigenous communities. Also, the fact that both national and international organizations, from governments to non-profits, are working to provide the necessary resources to help indigenous entrepreneurship grow suggests hope for more positive things to come.
– Luciana Mena