Most of the workers of fair trade cooperative UPA live in rural areas and work in their homes. They produce alpaca metal jewelry (an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc), some of it adorned with abalone or resin, and silver-plated jewelry. Producing and marketing their products collectively, cooperative members are able to provide fair wages and raise family incomes. In response to needs, they have instituted a health care and disability fund for members.
Taxco el Viejo is a small village in the silver-rich mountains of Guerrero state. In the 20th century, silversmithing became the region’s major industry and small family businesses sold their work through middlemen who controlled prices. In 1986, 26 jewelry makers formed the cooperative Union Progresista Artesanal to market their products independently.
Ten Thousand Villages purchases abalone and alpaca jewelry from UPA. Ten Thousand Villages has purchased products from UPA since 1988.
- Artisan Products