Kennedy Leavens founded Awamaki in the belief that income in the hands of women is the best way to lift communities out of poverty. Located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas of Peru, Awamaki works with Andean woman’s artisan cooperatives to develop their technical and administrative skills and connect them to an international marketplace.
The partner cooperatives weave, knit, spin and sew, they also offer training in quality control, product development and technical skills improvement.
Though a non-profit, Awamaki uses market strategies to accomplish its charitable goals of increasing women’s income and business leadership.
This “Impact Model” incubation programme is funded by Awamaki and is delivered with local partners in Quechua to provide training and market access. The process allows indigenous women to create independent businesses without dependence on charity. From the sale of products, artisans double their average annual income, which is often the difference between poverty and upward mobility.
An important component to Awamaki’s work is a Sustainable Tourism programme offering visitors immersive experiences and the chance to understand the Quechua culture in an impactful, non-exploitative manner. This includes a homestay association and a Spanish teachers’ cooperative. It also includes community cultural tourism excursions to visit Awamaki’s weaving cooperatives where products can be purchased directly. The Sustainable Tourism projects lead meaningful cultural experiences for tourists and promote appreciation of Andean traditions and ways of life. They operate a store in Ollantaytambo to sell products to tourists. Awamaki’s products are sold in the United States through its online store, trunk shows and partner retailers.
Awamaki is working towards the following UN Sustainable Development Goals: