[Manos del Uruguay has a blog here — in Spanish, of course! From time to time, we’ll bring you translations of their posts. Here’s one:]
The General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) has declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC). The designation serves to highlight the contribution that cooperatives have had in reducing poverty, creating jobs and promoting social inclusion. The theme of the International Year of Cooperatives 2012 is “The Cooperative Companies Help Build a Better World.”
The International Year of Cooperatives is to raise public awareness of the valuable contributions of cooperatives to poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration. Also, the International Year of Cooperatives will highlight the strengths of the cooperative business model and alternative means of doing business and socioeconomic development.
Most of the year’s activities will focus on information exchange. These communication activities will focus on the theme of this year, “Cooperative enterprises help build a better world” and highlight key aspects of cooperative enterprises that allow them to comply with this rule.
There are 10 key messages:
• Cooperative enterprises help build a better world.
• The cooperatives are member-owned, member-driven and managed by the members themselves.
• Cooperatives empower people.
• The cooperatives improve quality of life and strengthen the economy.
• Cooperatives enable sustainable development.
• Cooperatives promote rural development.
• Cooperatives balance social demands with economic ones.
• Cooperatives promote democratic principles.
• Cooperatives and gender: a way out of poverty.
• Cooperative: a sustainable business model for youth.
Manos del Uruguay has more than 40 years working with this type of craft production cooperative whose main objectives are:
- Create and develop jobs for women in the countryside
- Provide opportunities for growth in the economic, social and cultural spheres to all members
- Valuing crafts and artisans’ work
The artisans are the owners of Manos del Uruguay and are part of an organization whose goal is to generate employment for rural women, allowing us to stay with our families, have a financial support and develop as people.
We are grouped into 13 cooperatives that gather 250 artisans distributed throughout the interior of the country in 19 locations. Meanwhile, the Service Center is located in Montevideo and employs about ninety officers, engaged in providing various services to the cooperatives including product design, technical training, production and maintenance of tools, sale of products, financing, and advice to those who perform administrative functions, among other services.
Manos del Uruguay is managed by a Steering Committee composed of representatives of Cooperatives and representatives of the Adhering Partners, individuals who cooperate voluntarily with the organization.
The Board members change every two years. Since 1988, the representatives of the cooperatives have formed the majority of the Board of Directors: of the seven members, four are artisans.
With each purchased skein of Manos del Uruguay yarn you will be helping a woman to support her family. Each skein is signed, so you will know who made your yarn, and from which village it came.
You will be supporting the hand-crafted rather than mass-produced, and contributing to an economy where the workers control the means of production. You, as a handknitter, crocheter or weaver, will be contributing to women’s careers in harmony with family life, and contributing to the landscape and cultural heritage of Uruguay.
If you are interested to read more, please visit the Official Website of the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives .