Business Overview

The Nisburundungan Artisan group is a cooperative dedicated to preserving Guna culture through the creation and sales of traditional textiles and accessories. The group currently has 45 members and a storefront strategically located on the Panamerican highway.

Nisburundungan Artisan Group - Ipetí Guna, Panamá

Economic Challenge

Meaning shooting star in the indigenous Guna language, the Nisbundorgan Artisan Group is a cooperative that sells such artisan crafts as molas, vinchas, and other accessories regularly adorned by women in the community, but also many items commonly purchased as souvenirs for travelers. The group is continuously looking for ways to expand their storefront that sits at the entrance to the community on the Panamerican highway through signage and display of their crafts for travelers to see from the road.

  • Business Owner(s): 48 person cooperative
  • Date Established:  March 18, 2014
  • Community Members Involved:  48 local female artisans

Economic Challenge

As the group has grown quickly in both membership and economic activity, it requires an updated approach to bookkeeping and inventory management. Also, this artisan group faces competition from similar organizations that are able to sell their crafts in Panama City. Tourists may be more inclined to purchase the easily accessible items in the city rather than in their community.

Business Solution

The Business

The Nisburundungan Artisan Group produces high-quality crafts and a dedicated membership. With their strategic storefront on the Panamerican highway, their local operation faces little competition. Additionally, they have begun to allow local artisans from nearby communities to also utilize the space, which helps support the cultural conservation of indigenous communities. The Group also holds membership in the Ibedi Guna Community Bank, giving the ability to properly save profits and access to capital to facilitate growth going forward.

Competitive Advantage

This large artisan group is composed of strong, and open minded women that are willing to actively learn and change, to continue to expand and grow their business. The physical store is located in an excellent location for any person passing by the community, and their products sell for high prices in Panamá City due to the high demand.


The artisan groups often faces difficulty as they face competition with other Guna communities that also sell artisanal crafts, in addition the lack of a distributor in the city complicates their ability to expand their sales.

Advice for Future Brigades:

  • Conduct more in-depth market research
  • Find and locate particular distributors in Panama City.
  • Find the accurate prices of raw materials and create a purchasing plan.
  • Teach them about daily ledgers for the business and other accounting practices.

Business Snapshot

Investment to Date

Next Steps

The tasks thatNisburundungan Artisan Group has prioritized are:

1: Update bookkeeping and administrative practices
2: Implement inventory system
3: Expand sales operation to reach broader markets

Business Brigades that have consulted this business:

# of Volunteers
# of Volunteers
Carnegie Mellon University

Page Last Updated:December 03, 2019