Bolivian Women Knitters

My name is Patricia Maldonado. I was born in La Paz, Bolivia in 1960. Attended American and German Schools and USA University getting a BA in Graphic Design.

As soon as returning to my country and getting married, I started working in activities that would show the world the magnificent capacity of Bolivian artisans in making incredible products.

For this I developed a digital catalog of handcrafts in 1998, with one of the first digital cameras that were available in the market. I opened a local store in La Paz to use as an office where all handcrafts were sold. I was able to make then my first export of wood carvings to the US.

These were hard times in our home income, so I started making frozen desserts and distributing them to local supermarkets. It was a lot of work with both handcrafts activities, the store, baking and bringing up three children.

In 2000 Quipus Foundation in La Paz, Bolivia , hired me to work in a project to help the handcrafters of Bolivia, funded by the International Development Bank. This program lasted 6 years in which we achieved getting very good results in improving handcrafts and knitted products and getting many clients in the USA and continuous exports. In 2006 I realized that the project which even though had grown a lot, was not focusing in the growth of the people, specially in the women knitters who had such an immense potential in every aspect.

In 2007 I decided to create my own company that would allow us to continue and grow with the activities achieved with the Foundation program which at that time worked with 50 knitters. In 2007 Nanay SRL was created with two ladies that worked at the Foundation program, who each received a partnership of the company

In the last 8 years NANAY has considerably grown together with the knitters which at present time are 600 women working for the Bolivian exports of alpaca knitted products. Nanay makes sure that every workshop becomes a legal registered tax paying small enterprise leaded by a woman. Every woman knitter, head of the workshop is a big entrepreneur now. In many cases their husbands work for the workshop and are leaded by their wives. (There are many men who are masters in the knitting technique ). The Women entrepreneurs and head of their families are in charge of the main income of their homes. Most of them are mothers and responsible for their children’s education. These women’s self esteem is immeasurable now that they know what they are capable of doing. Their work goes to the highest top stores in the world such as Barneys in NY, JCrew in the US and many similar stores in Europe, Korea and Japan. Now in 2014, Nanay is a fantastic, women leaded company that works as a happy 600 persons team with a common vision of creating more and more jobs for the low income women of Bolivia. I want Nanay to keep growing and will continue working hard as much as my energies will permit me to, and then I am sure that my children will continue making this to grow and continue having the satisfaction to create more and more jobs for our incredible masters women knitters.

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