Women's Day blog: Maricucha shares her story as a female CEO in Peru

Maricucha de la Fuente
Allpa, Peru

Maricucha de la Fuente

My name is Maricucha de la Fuente. I am one of the founders and CEO of Allpa, a leading Fair Trade company in Peru. We were created 32 years ago and work with artisans who produce alpaca textiles, home décor and fashion garments and jewelry.

As a woman, and as the leader of a Fair Trade Enterprise, one of the principles that I most cherish is NO DISCRIMINATION OF ANY KIND. At its heart, this means ensuring the same opportunities and working conditions for both men and women.

Even if this sounds obvious these days, it is not. Women still receive lower salaries for the same work as men, even in the most advanced Western countries. The situation is much worse in 3rd world countries- especially in Asian countries due to religious and cultural reasons.

I was extremely lucky to get a higher education in my country. My education opened up a whole world of knowledge and possibilities. I studied Sociology, and I think my studies inspired me to become an entrepreneur. It was like a new adventure, exploring the possibility of creating bigger opportunities for artisans who faced huge obstacles to get into the market. I will never regret making this decision 32 years ago.

As a CEO of Allpa, I feel like I’m running a household, just on a much bigger scale. It involves economic issues; planning budgets; looking for efficiency in resources uses; solving problems; fixing things; health issues, psychological problems; education and training.   

On top of this, the fight for survival in the global market pushes you to constantly develop, analyze markets and reach more customers. At the same time, you have to keep an eye on your own household and responsibilities to your family. Double job, it is called…

Allpa is fighting to create more platforms where these issues can be made public and discussed openly. We must create an awareness with public and private leaders about how to really enable women’s participation in economic, politic and cultural life. Women still live in a world controlled by men. Allpa, as a partner of Fair Trade, will always be committed to creating platforms for opportunity to women artisans and producers.

But we Fair Traders still need to create more spaces where we can discuss our challenges now and beyond. Communicate, and work together- with your neighbor, your partner and your community. Together, we can transform obstacles into opportunities to grow.