Greetings from Cusco! My name is Harrison Ackerman and I’ve been here with Threads of Peru as an Evaluation Research Intern since early July. Although Northport, a small Long Island town in New York, is where I call home, I’ve been in Boston for most of the past few years in school at Northeastern University. I’m currently the youngest in the office at 20 years old and will graduate with a degree in Political Science and International Affairs this upcoming May.
Warping is one of the many steps of creating the beautiful products by each artisans. Photo courtesy of Alexa Jones.
I was immediately drawn to Threads because of the focus on economic development and expanding opportunity in marginalized communities. However, what really solidified my decision to pursue a six month research project was the organization’s unique strategy. Rather than relying on the benevolence of donors to empower indigenous artisans, Threads has utilized the international market to create a model of social enterprise that warrants replication in other industries and across the world. The potential for creating positive change in such a sustainable business-driven project was reason enough for me to join the Threads team, and luckily enough there was a specific project concept that we excitedly agreed upon.
Annie with Ruperta in the community of Uppis. Photo courtesy of Annie Marcinek
Annie, my research partner, and I are in the process of creating and implementing the organization’s first evaluation project. As September approaches, we are finishing the project’s planning phase and will be beginning extensive community visits and weaver interviews in the upcoming second phase. The research will ultimately allow us to better understand the weavers with whom we work through the collection of baseline data. Additionally, responses to our ¨defined¨ and ¨hypothetical¨ socio-economic question sets will inform future project development and help us to more effectively support weaving cooperatives by addressing their individual and collective needs.
The thriving of Huaran weavers shows why Threads sincerely appreciates the support from our customers, followers and volunteers. Photo courtesy of Alexa Jones
Evaluating the work of NGOs like Threads of Peru is absolutely essential to ensure their continued success. For Threads to distinguish itself within the sector, it needs to prove that its initiatives are yielding worthwhile results. The days are over of investing in a cause because the needs are great and the ambitions are grand; donors want to be part of something with proven impact. While this research project is just the first step of many on the long-term evaluation horizon, building a strong foundation is key to creating a comprehensive strategy. In the words of American author Hunter S. Thompson, ¨Anything worth doing is worth doing right.¨