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MATRIARCA - Connecting +4000 native women with customers across the globe to ensure social and environmental sustainability in Gran Chaco.

We develop commercialization channels and help empower native isolated communities with skills, infrastructure and the recovery of forests.

Photo of Magui Trucco
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Women from northern indigenous communities in Argentina made very attractive handcrafts but because of their geographical isolation and lack of marketing skills, were forced to poorly trade their valuable art for food and basics in order to survive. The extreme poverty and isolation of these communities, composed by at least 150K people, had a massive impact on their population, culture and ecosystems, putting at risk their continuity and largely affecting native forests. The impossibility to generate sustainable economic opportunities locally, mainly due to isolation, favored the deterioration of the forest, being the same population economically forced to participate in the exploitation of nature, and authorizing deforestation by private companies, putting at risk the reproduction of the ecosystem. Between 1998 and 2006, 700K hectares of native forests were lost in the Impenetrable zone, affecting endangered species such as the Yaguareté, the Tatú Carreta and the Anteater. Matriarca, with other organizations, came to help in organizing and institutionalizing native communities, providing help in the development of skills and empowering women so that a bridge between rural communities and urban consumers was able to be constructed. Since our inception in 2013, Matriarca has generated significant and measurable social impact, working, partnering and helping +4000 women, +35 indigenous communities of 7 different etnias and located across 5 different provinces. Funding would be applied directly into strengthening the bridge between native communities and customers. The two main verticals of the inversion are: 1) Improvement of products: working with the communities in new designs, manufacture processes and quality standards; 2) Marketing investment to increase sales: strong social media campaigns, help develop modern marketing skills in the communities (ex. selling a Yica purse by Instagram, taking a good picture) and developing foreign/local institutional clients

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The beneficiaries are +4000 indigenous artisan women, in +35 rural isolated communities from 7 different etnias and located across 5 different provinces, who through their sustained income had an increasingly important role in their families and communities, acquiring more tools and knowledge, and now in constant communication with people from urban centers. The work of Matriarca, its partnering organizations and more importantly the indigenous communities has permitted to develop a unique scale and territory footprint and allowed native etnias to work together and cooperate between them. Also worldwide consumers who obtain unique products, made in a sustainable way, with 100% natural raw materials and dyes, healthy for people and the planet are of great benefit. Finally societies in general for the preservation of cultural diversity and the planet for the preservation of the biodiversity of native ecosystems (fauna and flora); alive gems, irreplaceable and in serious danger.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

MATRIARCA has been successfully and steadily working for years with a network of complementary organizations that collaborate in the development of the territory, helping to improve communication, development and distribution of the product, among others: Artisans Cooperatives, Fundación Gran Chaco, INTI, INTA, SAMSUNG. The articulation of such organizations with the communities has allowed to generate a unique impact of scale and success in the territory. COMAR (Cooperativa de Mujeres Artesanas) is a MATRIARCA shareholder. MATRIARCA, is in need of funding to leverage its actions and try to consolidate the artisans collectives as a global supplier for retail consumers and also for supplying wholesalers. Funding will be applied directly into the development of products that can convince customers internationally and for spreading the unique voice of indigenous art and their story, reaching more and new customers and generating better incomes for indigenous communities.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Full Scale Roll Out: I have already tested and scaled this idea significantly with the intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

MATRIARCA works together with indigenous communities to: -Design products using local resources -Create commercialization channels -Give “voice” to their cultural assets -Ensure sustainability of the value chain -Get feedback, iterate and identify success products -Provide workshops for artisans to develop skills Rural areas can be transformed by the creative force of their inhabitants provided the tools to reach urban centers with high quality products.

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered social enterprise.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

MATRIARCA was inspired in 2013 on a trip made by Paula Marra (agronomist-entrepreneur) to the “Gran Chaco Sudamericano”, where she found that women from indigenous communities -WICHÍ, QOM, QOMLE'EC and PILAGÁ- made very attractive handcrafts but because of their geographical isolation and lack of marketing skills, were poorly sold. Evidencing the extreme poverty, lack of resources and the need to preserve such a fragile and unique ecosystem as the Gran Chaco, MATRIARCA was passionately born.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

PROSPERITY: MATRIARCA helps more than 4000 indigenous women and their families, in a territory where extreme poverty, isolation and lack of all type of resources is the main characteristic. By building a bridge to connect them with urban centers, helping them to develop skills and helping to provide infrastructure, they now are able to have a true voice and value to their cultural assets, increase and have fair incomes and make the communities sustainable. PLANET: The main environmental consequence of helping the indigenous communities become sustainable locally is the protection of endangered native forests and fauna, it is important to remark that the whole Gran Chaco ecosystem is a very fragile one that depends on the indigenous communities for their protection. MATRIARCA, working with other organizations, has helped in the recovery of native forests, specially in the Chaguar conservation (only grows in south american Gran Chaco) and the recovery of natural dyes, among other.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

MATRIARCA is proud to be a key part of a network of social organizations, public organizations, cooperatives and companies working side by side to help indigenous communities become sustainable and protect their ecosystems, among our partners are: 1) Fundación Gran Chaco: Organizes and articulates actions in the territory. 2) COMAR, WARMI and other collective of artisans: Artisans are now institutionally organized. 3) INTI: Proceses technification and recovery of ancestral DYES. 4) INTA: Agricultural, sustainable resources, recovery of native forests. 5) Nanum Village SAMSUNG: Technology partner. 6) El futuro esta en el monte: The network composed by all the above organizations. 7) TURNY: Fashion and product design for this project.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The communities that work with MATRIARCA have proven to have an incredible capability to incorporate skills and adapt to consumer demands while respecting and spreading their native art. The network created with other organizations, the institutionalization of the different groups and etnias into self managed organized collectives and the passion to overcome and change their reality have built the solid pillars that can allow the project to continue growing and improving.

Geographic Focus

The project focuses on the indigenous communities from North of Argentina, covering 5 provinces.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

Project Vertical 1) Improvement of products: - working with the communities in new designs: 6-12 months. - manufacture processes and quality standards: 12 months. Project Vertical 2) Marketing investment to increase sales: - strong social media campaigns: 3-36 months. - help develop modern marketing skills in the communities: 6-12 months. - developing foreign/local institutional clients: 3-36 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Our Workshop

Hello hello
This is a great thing to be working on. I strongly believe in the ingenuity and innovation possible in these types of rural communities having worked in similar spaces in Africa. I also strongly believe that there is a need to work with the incredible talented (in fact GENIUS) makers, artists, craftswomen and designers over a long time to try and share the context into which their work is going once it leaves 'the village'. I would like to know if and how you do this? I'd also like to know about the pricing structures for the work that is made by these women... and the pricing of their products thereafter in the supply chain. Could you explain how you manage this? I also really hope that you have been able to grow the interest and skills transfer to younger women!! Is this working? And if so how? And if not... do you have any plans for this? I see so much beautiful traditional craft skill literally dying in the world due to disinterested youth. I think its vital to pass it on and make craft/design cool foe new generations.
I'd love to work with you in future myself!! - I am the founder of Our Workshop and I'll message you as myself too because I have great passion for your work and I am experienced and good at working with rural makers and indigenous craft practices.
Good luck,
Heath Nash 

Photo of Magui Trucco

Hi Heath Nash !
Thank you very much for your interest in Matriaca! :) I will try to answer all your questions:
-FEEDBACK: through email conversations, whatsapp we tell the artisans how they products are sold and where, we also organize meetings in their territory in which we show them photos and tell them about the universe where their products are sold, how the products are displayed in the showroom, in fairs in Argentina and overseas or in a fashion shows. We also try invite some of the coordinators to the fairs or to the showroom and organize small meetings with clients.
-PRICES: are discussed with each of the artisans according to what they want to earn for their products, we guide them so that there is a uniform criteria regarding time, product size, etc. Most of the artisan women belong to a cooperative (COMAR) that is also a Matriarca shareholder.
- YOUNG WOMEN: currently show good acceptance, this is mainly given to team work with other organizations, such as the digitalization of Samsung in Nanum Villages, young women see how mothers' lives are transformed, how they generate income and they started to learn and begin to accompany them in their tasks.
It is very interesting everything you are doing in Our Workshop , congratulations! let's keep in touch!

Photo of Our Workshop

Hello Magdalena

Great! Thanks so much for your thoughtful response.

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