Spinning Dreams in Tarapacá: The Story of Nilda Mamani, Winner of the Sixth Edition of Chilean Boost

26 •  feb •  2024

The 38-year-old artisan, dedicated to crafting with alpaca wool, was one of the three winners in her region, out of a total of 250 selected nationwide.

With this edition, more than 900 micro-entrepreneurs from across the country will have participated in the program, which provides funding of up to $5 million, training, and mentorship. The winners of this edition represent all regions of the country, with 75% hailing from areas outside the Metropolitan Region.

Aymara textile craftsmanship in Chile holds profound cultural, historical, and social significance. The Aymara people are one of the oldest indigenous communities in the country, maintaining their traditions over the centuries. Nilda Mamani, 38 years old, resides in the Tarapacá Region, specifically in the commune of Alto Hospicio. She dedicates herself full-time to crafting with alpaca wool, a tradition passed down through her family.

Nilda began weaving with alpaca wool at a very young age, using the material from local herds in the highland village of Chulluncane. It was there that she acquired all her knowledge, alongside her grandparents and aunts. By the age of 15, she could create her own pieces, even using looms. However, it wasn’t until she turned 23 that she decided to transform this cultural heritage into her own business, as a way to balance caring for her children, home, and personal development.

Throughout her 15 years as an entrepreneur and artisan, she has dedicated 100% of her efforts to creating ponchos, shawls, scarves, and wraps. Additionally, she dyes the raw material with natural herbs from the highlands, such as sipu tola, lampaya, humatola, or queñua. “Every time I’m weaving, I connect with my roots and identity, seeking to strengthen my traditions,” explains the artisan.

Discovering Chilean Boost 6

In 2023, while selling her products at a local fair in her region and chatting with other entrepreneurs, she learned about the existence of the Chilean Boost program by the Luksic Foundation. The program provides funding of up to $5 million, training with the UC School of Management, and personalized mentorship by the Simon de Cirene Corporation.

“Faith is the last thing you lose,” she exclaimed aloud while submitting the required documentation. After a couple of weeks, she began to progress through the process until, on January 15 of this year, she was informed that she was one of the 250 selected nationwide. “This prize will allow me to grow in my personal life and in my family business,” reflects Nilda.

In this sixth edition, the winners represent all regions of the country from Arica to Magallanes. The Tarapacá Region had a total of 3 winners, all women: Nilda Mamani with her products made from alpaca wool (@ventas_de_artesania_aymara), Sofía Vodnizza with the preparation of lunches, desserts, and catering (@Casonadelostatas), and Alicia Reyes with her artisanal ice creams and various products at “Gelatería Holiday” (@alicia.holiday.reyes).

Today, Nilda lives in Alto Hospicio with her partner and four children, but whenever she can, she returns to the highlands with her family to immerse herself in her roots and create pieces that preserve the local traditions of her culture. Because in the future, her dream is to showcase this art both nationally and internationally.

Since 2018, over 900 entrepreneurs have participated in Chilean Boost, an initiative that provides funding of up to $5 million, training, and mentorship. All information about the program and other entrepreneurship calls will be published on the social media channels of the Luksic Foundation and on fundacionluksic.cl.