While there is barely a Colombian who has not been affected by the five-decade-long internal conflict, it is often the indigenous communities that have been hurt most severely. In the first nine months of 2012 alone, 11,000 indigenous people were forcefully displaced,78 were killed and 47 received death threats.
A few resilient indigenous communities such as the Embera-Jaikerazabi located in Mutatá, Antioquia, have managed to survive the tough reality in which they find themselves caught, and have seen in the medium of craft, an opportunity to improve the quality of life of their people, and in doing so have become a real example to follow for similar communities.
Javier Domico is an indigenous leader, who four years ago undertook the task of advising and assisting in the recovery of craft traditions that had been in danger of becoming lost over time, and is currently coordinating important social projects funded by the local government and private corporate responsibility programs in Colombia. Not only a traditional master craftsman himself, he is also an educator and nowadays leads a group of two male and eleven female household heads, who are handcrafting intricate seed bead accessories, some of the most popular traditional products sold during well established craft trade shows.
His wife and two children are involved in the business too, and Javier gains much satisfaction from being able to pass on the traditional skills and knowledge to his 15 year old son, which will help to preserve the native cultural heritage and rich costumes. Moreover, he proudly states that his wife also has real talent as a designer, although his daughter doesn’t seem very keen on the path as a craftsperson, preferring the academic side ofthings.
Communities like that of the Jaikerazabi work all year long in the hope of making most of their profits during two or three annual trade shows, however the stand fees are becoming very expensive and despite having a lot of success, they would like to have more established and regular customers, meaning more stability and continuity for their businesses.
Javier is also a shop owner in Mutata, but his sales remain limited to local demand, he could sell more but due to being located six hours away from Medellin, his market remains limited and his income unpredictable. We met during one of the prominent craft trade shows, and he sees in the opportunity to showcase his products online with Procraftinations a potential answer to overcoming some of his constraints.
By introducing artisans such as Javier to today's increasingly digital working methods, Procraftinations is providing them with the chance to operate 24/7, accessing global consumers online, and thus empowering their communities, connecting markets and fostering opportunities that could potentially change lives.