The group’s members grew up knitting, but could never receive a fair wage for their work because of a saturated local market. Tupaq Yupanqui began working with Bridge of Hope in 2006, exporting their Shinsters, socks that incorporate traditional Incan patterns into a design that has been adapted for the foreign market. The group had five core members, but there have been up to 20 different women from the community who have worked with the group. Many women have left the group because they have been enticed by work provided by non-profit organizations that have recently inundated the area. These organizations provide the women with yarn, designs and money for their work. The pay is good but the women do not know where to purchase the materials, how to create their own designs, or where to sell the products. The members of Tupaq Yupanqui realize that the funding for these projects will dry up and the organizations may disappear. They have faith that their work through Fair Trade will continue to grow and have realized that Fair Trade is a sustainable way to improve their livelihoods.
Tupaq Yupanqui’s sales have grown since 2006, and the group now exports knit alpaca hats and gloves in addition to their socks. Sometimes when they are busy with orders, they say the men of the family need to cook – an uncommon event in traditional Peruvian culture. Personal development is evident among the members of the group – their confidence has grown immeasurably over the past few years. The members continue to work on pricing, quality control and design, and hope to escape from poverty through their work.