How Ecuadorian knitters taught me to get rich in the world’s most valuable currency
Posted on September 16 2015
A couple months back, hoping to make life easier for the 120 indigenous Ecuadorian women who work in my knitting cooperative, I splashed out on a bunch of specialized hand-guided knitting machines.
I jumped aboard a plane and headed 3750 miles south from my home in New Jersey to the small Ecuadorian city of Cuenca, and then to the Andes Mountains on the city’s outskirts, where my team of supremely skilled knitters live.
I was so excited about handing out this new technology, believing the machines would dramatically increase production and help each woman earn a better living.
Imagine my shock when the women positively refused to even be near to the machines!
Why my team of knitters rejected efficient modern machines in favor of traditional hand knitting
After investing a bunch of money on this fancy new equipment, I learnt quick smart that my group of indigenous Quechua women absolutely loved the simplicity of old-fashioned hand knitting.
Knitting by hand means they can work as they walk around town, as they chat with friends or ride on the bus, and as they watch over their children.
To them, these fancy machines meant confinement to factory-style work. They didn’t care that the technology would allow them to make 25 knit sweaters a week, rather than just one.
Even as they struggled with rural isolation and poverty, they rejected machines that could have helped increase their production, upping their income.
The key to getting rich in the world’s most valuable currency
Accepting the knitting machines would have meant giving up the rich and social lifestyle the women adored. And no way were they going to trade their relaxed way of life just for money.
It spoke volumes about who these women are and what they value most.
And it was an excellent lesson for me. I had to let go of my American obsession with production statistics, with the constant fixation on money and how to make more of it.
Instead, these women showed me how slowing down and being present is the only way to get rich in what is truly the most valuable currency in the world: time spent with loved ones and friends.
Until next time,