Comparte - Chile

Jessica Palacio was a medical technician before she began to create handcrafts with Carlos Guerrero, an iron worker, Over a decade ago.
Jessica and Carlos have created a happy and productive working environment for their staff.  In their workshop, 'Oh what a moon', located in Limache, near Valparaiso, they employ ten other people to help create their glass jewellery.
Jessica and Carlos buy the glass, their primary material, from a Chilean glass producer and then cut it according to their desired form. The women in the workshop then paint it with special enamel pigments, following a design drawn by Jessica and her sister Ana Maria.

Maritza Quintero has been creating her glass pieces for over a decade now, in her workshop in the hills of Valparaiso.  Before this, she studied for five years at the University of Fine Arts and has subsequently continued to develop her skills on her own. 
She works seven days a week and up to twelve hours per day, though her sister helps her when she is particularly busy.

Maritza has been working with Comparte for almost ten years now and her adaptation to a more intensive process and her capacity for impressive production has resulted in a great increase in her sales and has also improved her standard of living.  She travels a lot and participates in both local and international artisans' fairs in order to stay abreast of different trends. In fact, 60% of her pieces are sold overseas.

COMPARTE (Comercializadora de Productos Artesanales Exportables) is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to Fair Trade.COMPARTE's mission is to improve the lives and standard of living for owners and employees of economically struggling workshops and artisan groups throughout Chile. In contrast to the companies that market developing world handicrafts by paying the economically struggling artisans unfair prices for their goods, COMPARTE finds viable markets that pay fair prices for its artisan's high-quality handcrafted goods. This provides the workers in COMPARTE's artisan shops with an alternative to exploited labour, allowing them to obtain or maintain a decent standard of living.

COMPARTE also tries to promote the concept of fair trade by creating marketing initiatives that stimulate the knowledge about traditional products and cultural values in the third world while also educating the buyers to the challenges faced by our producers.

An important part of COMPARTE's mission is to promote and export the handicrafts its artisans design and create, as well as working with the artists to improve their business practices and continually develop new products that stay true to their traditions.

The beneficiaries of COMPARTE's work are, in general, micro-enterprises and associations of artisans who are from poor economic sectors. Moreover, despite their ability to produce attractive products and generate fair labor, their relatively small production capacity and minimal use of technology have limited them in some way.

Text and Image courtesy of Comparte