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Our Escondida asset in Chile is helping local business development by supporting an initiative run by a group of women in the small fishing port of Coloso. The women make and sell diving suits to support the local fishing community.

The Mujeres del Mar (Women of the Sea) Union was established in 2009. The economy of Coloso currently relies almost exclusively on fishing; a profession that is heavily male dominated. The Union’s purpose is to build an alternative industry for the community and an independent means for the women of the community to contribute to their household incomes. Currently, the Union members include fisherwomen, seafood processors, food vendors and boat owners.

With support from Escondida, the women have developed the technical and business skills required to design, manufacture and sell diving suits. The business’ unique proposition is that it is able to create customised suits, at a lower cost than those offered by big companies. The Union plans to go into other lines of business, such as the fabrication of suits for surfing and bodyboarding, and the fabrication of other diving accessories such as fins, hoses and belts.

The Union is now establishing networks, agreeing contracts and forecasting future demand. It is also developing government and municipal networks to enable access to public funds, to support the building of an independent, sustainable livelihood for the women and their community.

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