Mexican entrepreneurs innovate with electronic commerce to revive the crafts, an occupation that is commemorated this March 19, the Day of the Artisan, by representing almost a fifth of the country's cultural GDP, but which faces challenges such as imitation products.
Alfredo Fonseca is one of these visionaries who, to save the tradition of his family, who closed his workshop more than four years ago, founded La Cosita Chula, a platform that includes more than one hundred artisans from states like Chiapas, Jalisco, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla and Tlaxcala.
"New technologies are key. The new generations already want that, with a click, they can have their product already at home, but above all that they have a quality product, that it is well made and that they are certain that they are taking a real product ", he assures this Thursday in an interview with Efe.
When reaching a participation of 18.8%, handicrafts are the second most important sector of Mexico's cultural gross domestic product (GDP), which was 702,132 million pesos (29,577 million dollars) in 2018, 3.2% of national GDP, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).
This means that artisanal production contributed 5,562 million dollars and represented 23% of the spending on goods and services in the sector, only below audiovisual media, such as cinema.
NEED TO INNOVATE
The need to innovate is key for artisans to place their products on the market, as shown by the agreement that the State Government of Mexico and Amazon signed last week to include 300 crafts from that entity in the catalog of the multinational e-commerce .
Fonseca argues that the sale of handicrafts is a matter that goes beyond logistics, since on the one hand it is to certify the quality and authenticity of the product, and on the other hand it is to offer new designs, as objects that can be applied to everyday life.
"Little by little, the new generations have become disinterested in them, seeing them as a product that has no innovation. So we, as La Cosita Chula, implement that, models and innovation processes to make them attractive, to have a profitable product" , manifests.
The entrepreneur, who was born into a family of artisans from Tlaxcala, adds that the disinterest of young people is not only in the part of the purchase, but also in the preparation, since there are fewer and fewer who are dedicated to the trade.
Therefore, its platform is not only dedicated to distribute, but also to train and guide artisans, a sector that is part of the 3.2 million workers who live without a salary, according to the National Survey of Occupation and Employment (ENOE ).
"What we want is for La Cosita Chula to function as that platform for the new generations to want to integrate, since we have seen that there is a lack of interest on the part of the new generations to be part of the industry that saw them grow," he argues.
A factor that helps this company is the growing interest of foreigners in handicrafts, since 85% of its products are exported, he adds.
In fact, more than 4% of the GDP generated by tourism in Mexico goes to the acquisition of handicrafts, according to the Mexican Government.
"What had happened in previous generations is that the foreigner highly values what he does not have. So, all that is the artisan product is a product that, through his travels, they recognize the technique and the skill", he comments.
However, with this internationalization, challenges also arise, such as imitation products made in China or in other Asian countries that even have polluting substances such as lead, Fonseca warns.
For this reason, La Cosita Chula also works to obtain international certifications so that countries such as the United States recognize its authenticity and quality.
"Our greatest competition is the imitation that exists, products from other latitudes that come in and that just because they are in Mexican territory put the 'Mexico' brand on them and sell them as if they were Mexican. That is the worst competition we have," he concludes.