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Silver Lining

A Bridge To The Amazon

Catalina Sosa's SLAPstory

“If you come only to help me, you can go back home. But if you consider my struggle as part of your struggle for survival, then maybe we can work together.” —Lilla Watson, a Murri visual artist, activist, and academic.

In the wake of 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic and global shutdown, Catalina Sosa feared the organization she had developed over 30 years was on the brink of collapse. Catalina founded Fundacion Sinchi Sacha (FSS) in 1991, along with the participation of various social scientists, who agreed that it was essential to support indigenous peoples and nationalities in the production of crafts — a vital method of maintaining their ancestral knowledge. In 2007, the foundation created the Mindalae Museum, where those same artisans can display and sell their works and host cultural events to bring awareness about Ecuador’s Indigenous peoples of the Amazon to the world.

In 2021 Catalina re-opened the foundation and museum, now with a skeleton staff and unsure connections with her clients and donors. The following year, she joined SLAP™ through Impact5X Initiative supported by GoDaddy™ and JPMorgan Chase. With the help and encouragement of her SLAPstrategist and SLAPexpert, Catalina took her fledgling organization back to its place of strength and hope for her community.

Catalina is incredibly proud of reaching 94% of her sales goal in 2022. Her SLAPstrategist helped her create a simple yet effective plan: take 10 minutes with each group that rents the museum’s event space to speak with them about Fundación Sinchi Sacha. After her presentation, she would invite the group for a special tour of the museum’s exhibitions and the showroom that is inside the gift shop. After getting to know Catalina, her foundation, and the artisans behind the handicrafts, her guests were eager to purchase one of the beautiful pieces. This small shift in her interactions with museum guests created two revenue streams out of one and gave her community a great way to cooperate with the great work of Fundación Sinchi Sacha.

Actions = Results

Because Catalina is such a high performer, let’s explore how she accomplished her results.

Q: Think about who you are today versus who you were before starting the SLAP™️ program. What has been the biggest change in your behavior? (i.e. your regular habits, practices, and self-management)

Catalina Sosa: I love working with the people, especially the women of the Amazon region. Between my time offsite, creating new programs, and responding to numerous speaking requests, I wasn’t giving enough focus to selling the artisan’s work to create the profits we need. SLAP™ taught me the importance of focusing my energy on who my client is (the Indigenous community of the Amazon region), and on creating sales to support their work as well as the foundation.

Q: What impact has that behavior shift had on your business? What about its impact on your personal life?

CS: Creating more specific goals has allowed my small staff and me to accomplish so much more than we thought possible. We focus on getting more people into the museum, including attracting tourists, so that we can sell more handicrafts. The increase in sales means we can continue providing the Indigenous artisans fair compensation and offering the community a space to celebrate our Indigenous Amazon people.

SLAPcommunity Call Out

No one succeeds alone, and SLAP supplies all of our small business owners with an incredible system of support. Here, Catalina brags on the folks who helped her become a SLAPstar!

CS: I am grateful to Victor Hoyos, from Guayaquil, who introduced me to SLAP™ World. It has also been of great help to follow the SLAP™ lessons and support from Renata Aguilar, my SLAPexpert, and my SLAPstrategists — Alex from Canada and María from Colombia. They have helped me through difficult transitions in my personal and business life with great care. I appreciate that they care about our passion for fair trade. Fairtrade is a cherished dream for many people around the world. I adhere to its principles and think that commerce has to base its human interactions on confidence and transparency. We needn’t harm anybody to succeed in our business.

Support This Small Business Owner!

Catalina hopes that our SLAPcommunity can help her team get the word out about Fundación Sinchi Sacha and the tremendous work they are doing with the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon rainforest. “We are planning to launch an international campaign to support Kichwa indigenous women. They are splendid pottery artists, and craft their vessels using very ancient techniques.”

Catalina asks that we follow Fundación Sinchi Sacha and the Mindalae Museum on social media and share her posts with your friends. She also encourages us to support the Indigenous makers she partners with by visiting the museum and buying their exceptional craftworks.