Minka is a private, non-profit organization that promotes social and economic development in Peru through support for a range of local handicraft projects. Since 1979, Minka has helped Peruvian artisans in 106 self-managed groups. Small organizations in need of assistance with their hand- manufactured items approach Minka from a diversity of regions and distinct cultures. Minka has worked in partnership since 1987 with approximately 10,000 craftwork producers from all over Peru; over three fourths being women struggling with poverty, in 62 self managed groups.
The craft producers seek business advice and technical assistance from Minka. They are mostly groups of women living in marginalized areas. These women want to sell handcrafts to supplement the small family income received from farming or other traditional occupations. Typically, middle merchants go to poorer Peruvian communities and villages offering artisans unfair prices that fail to cover costs. Many of the artisans do not know how to sell to a wider market and attract the prices needed to support their families. Minka is an alternative for them since it pays craft producers, in local wages, over twice as much per hour as do other middle -merchants. Also, once a year, Minka distributes net profits among member organizations at a meeting with two representatives from each group. At the same time proposals for the next year are discussed. Groups also use this time to describe the use they have made of distributed profits in local projects for community development such as school construction.