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New brand for Ecuador's leather goods

 

Leather products from Ecuador have a new brand and a snazzy shop in a prime location – across from the cathedral in the tourist city of Cuenca – thanks to organizational and marketing assistance provided by Red Productiva, a USAID project managed by CARANA. Ten firms, ranging from 15 to 100 employees, have joined forces behind the label Qiwa (pronounced KEE-wa, an indigenous word meaning “sowing together”) to share the cost of running the store and stocking it with jackets, belts and shoes.

Ecuador already exports leather products to high-end buyers like Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom’s, Harley-Davidson and El Corte lngles of Spain – although in small volumes. Marketing the industry is crucial to increase sales and visibility, so Red Productiva brought together the producers, with one lead or anchor firm, Curtesa, to create a franchise and provided branding advice through local PR firms.

The October 8 launch of Qiwa – covered by the media and attended by U.S. Ambassador Rebekah Hodges, the mayor of Cuenca and the presidents of the local business chambers – is hopefully the first of a nationwide chain that will eventually position itself to sell internationally. Red Productiva will continue to work with the group, bringing in consultants from Mexico and Spain to improve production processes as demand grows.

Published November 2008