Ecuador | Chaski Update

by Christina Kantzavelos at BuenQamino

Our co-founder, Danny recently went on a trip to Ecuador in July to begin production of the Chaski Backpacks, which a lot of you originally backed through our KickStarter campaign (hitting 210% of our goal- allowing us to both expand the workshop and begin raising funds for a daycare center!).  We can’t thank you enough for your contributions, and ongoing support. Our backpacks are still available on our Indiegogo campaign, and any future purchase(s) will continue to fund this same project. 

As you know, we were inspired by the Andean culture when we first visited Ecuador, with its very rich colors and textures. This is what influenced us to create the all-purpose Chaski Backpack to represent our project.  They are uniquely Ecuadoran, as they are locally woven and made with a high quality exterior shell, made from 100% recycled tires. Something you can really feel good about wearing, complete with imprinted latitude coordinates of 00 to represent Ecuador.  The backpacks are not only aesthetically appealing and versatile, but are helping build a community from within.  La Isla, just outside of Quito, Ecuador is the sole receiver of Chaski’s funding, and will forever be tied to it’s future sales.  Speaking of the Chaski and La Isla, here is the long-awaited update on the bags, and community project you helped back us up on:

We were able to finalize both packaging and the hanging tag design, and finally received the buckles (kind of important/only part produced outside of Ecuador).  We have three wonderful women from the community currently producing these backpacks, and the bags are being assembled in a shop inside Quito (once the entrepreneur workshop is built, then the entire bag process can take place within the community). Danny was even able to bring home the first 30 finished products! The rest of the bags should be delivered to the USA by end of August 2016, and then to YOUR doorstep soon after!

Community Project
We were able to discuss post-fundraising goals, final cost estimates, materials, the building layout and how the La Isla community will be participating in the build while in Ecuador.  We were also able to decide on the site location for the entrepreneur workshop, which we will begin building in early 2017.  There will be three phases, with the first being the foundation of the workshop.  The length of time for the project is contingent on volunteer schedules, and may necessitate three phases for completion.  Our goal is to make it large enough to allow 10 members of the community to work comfortably within the workshop.   As we continue to sell more products for the 00 product line, we will do more things with the funds - such as buy better equipment and hold seminars to learn new skills for the production process. In addition, our next goal is to build a daycare center, so that women in the community who would like to work, but need someone to watch their children, are now able to go to work while they are children are being safely watched. A community idea and goal- Pretty cool, right?

Project Volunteers
Our intention is to bring our own volunteers to complete the construction.  With hopes of covering the material costs of the build through the sales of the products, our volunteers who are willing to give a week of their time to help with the build, with local community support, will only have to pay for their flight and any extracurricular activities. This process will be open to anyone that wants to join, so stay tuned as we solidify dates for the phases and begin recruiting volunteers! 

The trip was not all work no play.  The Chaski visited some iconic places in Ecuador.  On the way to Mindo, a cloud forest a few hours outside Quito, we stopped at the center of the world at Latitude 00 - fitting right?  We know. 

How can you still help?
As of right now we have enough funding to build a small entrepreneurial workshop.  In an effort to hit our next goal of building a daycare center (for women in the community to be able to work, while their children our safely watched), we thought we should start rewarding those of you who can convince others to support our goals! 

When you refer 3 backers to our Indiegogo campaign you will be rewarded with Project Latitude swag, one of our t-shirts to be specific. Exciting right?

Here’s how it works:

Head to our Indiegogo page and grab your unique URL
Copy and paste the your link
Share with everyone you know
Earn Project Latitude gear!

Stay tuned, as we further our work on this project, and roll out more products that represent other communities and their needs. 

If you have any questions, please let us know and again appreciate your continue support! 

All the best -- Danny & Javier