UN-backed scheme enables Colombian indigenous groups to sell crafts

By United Nations
By United Nations

8/10/2011 8:18:26 PM -

Sixty indigenous families in Colombia are selling handicrafts in the capital, Bogotá, to cater to an influx of fans attending the ongoing youth soccer World Cup tournament as part of a United Nations-backed initiative to alleviate poverty.

The initiative resulted from a UN Development Programme (UNDP) partnership with Bogotá City Hall, the Colombian Government and the Indigenous Council Mesa Indígena, a civil organization of forcibly displaced indigenous peoples living in Bogotá, according to a press release issued today by UNDP.

The indigenous peoples from 19 ethnic groups have been living in extreme poverty in Bogotá after being displaced from their ancestral lands by armed conflict.

Many were trained in sales and marketing techniques in recent months, enabling them to better market their handicrafts in hotels and malls in Bogotá during the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, held in several cities across Colombia between 29 July and 20 August.

The World Cup has brought an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 foreign tourists to Colombia and they are expected to spend some $100 million in the country, according to the Government.

“We are taking advantage of the influx of tourists to boost market entry opportunities for indigenous peoples within the private sector's inclusive business and corporate social responsibility initiatives,” said Xavier Hernandez, an official with UNDP's poverty reduction and sustainable development programme.

The sale also coincides with the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, which is being marked globally today.

Hotels and malls in Bogotá will continue selling indigenous crafts a couple of months after the World Cup as part of UNDP's Inclusive Economic Development Project. Businesses are also supporting the initiative by buying the materials required to make handicrafts, promoting products in shop windows and providing transport and food.

Evelio Rodríguez Martínez, a member of the indigenous Kankuamo people and leader of 19 communities, said the initiative will enable them to earn an income in a dignified way, working with their hands and using the knowledge passed on between generations.