Press Releases

IFC Supports Indigenous Textile Producers through International Design Workshop

In Lima
Paul Melton

Phone: +1 51 1 611 2510

El Alto, Bolivia March 7, 2005—Twenty indigenous textile producers, representing six associations in and around El Alto, Bolivia, have completed a three-week design workshop sponsored by the Royal Embassy of Denmark and the International Finance Corporation’s Technical Assistance Facility for Latin America and the Caribbean.  The workshop aimed to strengthen the producers’ competitiveness and help them access new markets through intensive training in current textile trends and techniques.

“The textile producers participating in the workshop have strong technical skills and a wealth of tradition on which to draw for design inspiration.  However, they haven’t had access to the kind of up-to-date information on maket trends necessary for on-going product innovation,” noted Helena Lindberg, one of the workshop instructors from the Design School of Copenhagen.

During the workshop’s first week, Ms. Lindberg and her colleague Maren Korboel worked with producer groups on textile design fundamentals such as shape, pattern, and color combination, exchanging ideas and experiences from European and indigenous traditions.  The second week of the workshop centered on innovating each producer’s existing portfolio to develop new product lines that could commercialized in international markets.  The last week provided targeted training in product presentation—such as packaging, tags, catalogues, and promotional material—to help launch the new lines into the market.

“The results have been outstanding.  Rather than copy contemporary European design trends, we encouraged the participants to incorporate elements of both traditional and modern design, creating products which will satisfy consumer demands in an original and unique way,” affirmed Maren Korboel.

Tomas Saire, a workshop participant from Artesanias Mary, commented, “It has been very important for me to learn a methodology to create new products and above all to learn to use new colors that I had not used before.  I also think that workshop’s focus was positive, with the designers working directly with us, they have guided us, have visited our work places and have pinpointed our mistakes and also our potential”.

“The international design workshop provides a strong example of how the facility is working to connect local small business with international markets in order to extend economic opportunities to marginalized communities.  Within the broader context of its Indigenous Enterprise Development Program, the workshop highlights the facility’s ability to tailor its technical assistance to the specific needs of its stakholders,” affirmed Atul Mehta, IFC Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The international design workshop was design to address needs identified during the first phase of the facility’s Indigenous Enterprise Development Program, which fostered commercial links between several Bolivian artisans and an international retailer.  To deepen the impact of the workshop, participants will now begin sharing their experience with other textile producers in Bolivia.  Other current projects include business adminstration and management workshops for indigenous handicraft producers.  The Indigenous Enterprise Development Program is funded by Dutch Technical Assistance Trust Funds.


The mission of IFC ( is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY03, IFC has committed more than $37 billion of its own funds and arranged $22 billion in syndications for 2,990 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC's worldwide committed portfolio as of FY03 was $16.8 billion for its own account and $6.6 billion held for participants in loan syndications.


The IFC Technical Assistance Facility for Latin America and the Caribbean is a multilateral initiative backed by core IFC fund and program-specific funds from various donors (among them, Canada, Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland). The Facility's work program is focused on sustainability, investment climate improvement, and strengthening SME competitiveness. IFC also seeks to add value to IFC private sector development through programs such as linkages (which strengthen connections between investment clients and their local economies and communities) and business simplification. The Facility, based in Lima, is currently operating in four countries (Peru, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Bolivia) and is actively exploring opportunities for expanding to other countries in the region.