Boneca de Ataúro (Ataúro’s Doll) is a cooperative of 60 women based in the village of Vila Maumeta, in the heart of Ataúro island, 25km north of Dili. Boneca de Ataúro not only manufactures beautiful handmade embroidered dolls and handicrafts, but also plays a crucial role for the empowerment of women in the local community and the overall social life of the island.
The cooperative has made progress in designing and producing high quality ‘Atauro Dolls’ and developed good market reputation as a high-quality craft producer, but are now facing stagnant sales in the market. The reasons behind their stagnant sales are – very little product innovation after the original Boneca Dolls were designed and introduced in the market, no retail presence in Dili where all tourists arrive and depart from Timor-Leste, over reliance on institutional sales and limited capacity of Boneca de Atauro staffs and cooperative members in product design, textile design, communication and financial literacy.
In order to improve the profit margin of the business, Boneca de Atauro plans to invest in staff capacity development in the area of product design, textile design, graphic design, English and Portuguese language learning, financial literacy and business management. In terms of sales, it wants to setup its own retail outlet in Dili, develop product catalogues and attend international trade events to attract attention of foreign buyers. MDF aims to support Boneca de Atauro in achieving these goals so that it can improve its craft product line, improve its service towards customers and attract more customers at home and abroad, which will lead to more income and more skilled employment opportunities in a geographically isolated and economically lagging region like Atauro Island.
Photo essay: The Doll Makers of Ataúro Island