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Sumak Kawsay “el Buen Vivir”

Kirjoittanut: Omar Puebla Roldan - tiimistä FLIP Solutions.

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What is Sumak Kawsay?


Sumak Kawsay is a philosophy of life originating from the Andean indigenous peoples of Latin America. Also known as “Buen Vivir”, this philosophy focuses on the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment in harmony with nature and community.


Sumak Kawsay is an alternative to the Western development model, which has focused on economic growth and profit maximization at the expense of nature and society. The philosophy of Sumak Kawsay proposes a different vision of life, which seeks balance and harmony between people, nature, and the cosmos.


This philosophical approach has important implications for the economy and business, as it seeks sustainable development that takes into account the social and environmental impacts of economic activities. Instead of focusing solely on economic growth and profit maximization, Sumak Kawsay promotes social and economic justice and the active participation of the community in decision-making.


In business, this involves the adoption of fair and sustainable business practices that respect human rights and the environment. Companies must work collaboratively with local communities and respect their knowledge and culture, rather than simply taking what is needed without giving anything back. In addition, the Andean ethic, which is part of Sumak Kawsay, implies respect for cultural diversity and interculturality.


In Andean culture, the earth is considered a living being and not an inanimate object. This implies that we must treat it with respect and care, since we are part of it and depend on its resources to survive.


The history of this philosophy is closely linked to the struggle of the Andean peoples for their autonomy and the defense of their rights. This philosophy has been used as a tool of resistance against colonization and oppression, demonstrating its historical relevance and role in building more just and equitable societies.


Although there are no strict rules in Sumak Kawsay, there are certain principles that are considered important for living fairly and equitably:


  • Respect cultural diversity and interculturality.
  • Promote sustainability and care for the environment.
  • Promote equality and social equity.
  • Work in collaboration and solidarity with others.
  • Cultivate spirituality and personal introspection.
  • Promote individual and collective well-being and happiness.
  • Value and respect the wisdom of elders and indigenous peoples.
  • Encourage education and continuous learning.


 Why is it importantSumak Kawsay in business?


In modern business, you tend to focus on maximizing short-term profits, without taking into account the long-term consequences for society and the environment. Sumak Kawsay proposes a different way of doing business, in which the well-being of all stakeholders, including employees, customers, and the environment, is just as important as profit-making.


In this philosophy, it is believed that the purpose of life is not simply to accumulate wealth and material goods but to achieve happiness and fulfillment through a balanced and sustainable life. This balance includes the relationship between human beings and nature and is based on respect for and protection of nature.


Sumak Kawsay’s approach to the business world implies greater corporate social responsibility, in which companies commit to working for the well-being of society and the environment, as well as seeking their economic benefit. This involves a range of practices and policies that promote sustainability and social justice.


For companies adopting this approach, ethical decision-making is critical. Companies are expected to consider not only the interests of shareholders but also those of employees, customers, suppliers, and the wider community. Therefore, the impacts of business decisions must be carefully evaluated and how these decisions will affect all parties involved must be considered.


In addition, companies that adopt this approach must invest in the training and well-being of their employees. This means providing a safe and healthy work environment as well as opportunities for personal and professional development. By doing so, companies can increase productivity and employee satisfaction, which in turn can have a positive impact on long-term business success.


The approach to sustainable practices is central to Sumak Kawsay. Companies should seek to reduce their environmental impact through practices such as efficient resource management, reduction of waste and polluting emissions, and the use of renewable energy. This can not only reduce costs in the long run but also improve customer reputation and loyalty


Andean ethics and its application in business


The values and principles of Andean ethics have been forged by centuries of Andean history and philosophy, and represent an opportunity to create a fairer and more sustainable business model. Andean ethics, based on the harmonious relationship between human beings, nature, and the universe, include reciprocity, solidarity, complementarity, equity, justice, and responsibility, among other values and principles.


Respect for cultural diversity

Companies can adopt practices that respect and value the cultural diversity of the communities with which they work. This implies understanding and respect for the customs, traditions, and knowledge of communities, as well as the promotion of collaboration and intercultural dialogue.


Learning from other cultures helps us understand different perspectives within the world we live. It helps dispel negative stereotypes and personal biases about different groups.

Cultural diversity is about bringing people together from a diverse set of backgrounds and cultures and then creating an environment that not only recognizes the differences between those cultures and backgrounds but celebrates them. It helps create for people to be authentically themselves.


“There is not only one way to see the world”
-Omar Puebla


Sumak Kawsay’s philosophy promotes sustainability and respect for the environment. Companies can implement sustainable practices in their operations, such as the use of renewable energy, the reduction of polluting emissions, and the responsible management of natural resources


El Proyecto Semilla


Ecuador is the first country to declare that it will not use transgenic seeds in its agriculture to preserve indigenous and ancient products. agricultural crops are free of transgenic products, this helps to better preserve the environment since in the production of transgenic foods a large number of pesticides are needed and some of these pesticides are so harmful to the environment that they contaminate and kill insect species, animals and indigenous flora of Ecuador. Thus, with this proposal, Ecuador implements a sustainable agriculture system, not only for the environment but also for the preservation of products from an ancient culture.


Corporate social responsibility

Companies can adopt greater corporate social responsibility, considering not only their own interests but also those of society and the environment. This involves making ethical decisions, investing in employee training and well-being, and implementing sustainable practices.


Pacari a community cacao.

Pacari in one of the examples of Corporate social responsibility in its business model.

They work with cocoa cooperatives not only to buy their products but the impact that pacari has on rural cocoa communities.

not only does he pay the best price for the raw material, but he has also integrated teaching of agriculture, cultivation, and community work techniques.

This has increased the productivity of cocoa in their crops and also in their economy since now they can improve their price and production. This has benefited that now many families have been able to send their children to school, and many of these children before could not go to school since it was very expensive for parents to send their children to education.


Solidarity economy

A solidarity economy is an approach that promotes cooperation and solidarity rather than competition. Companies can adopt solidarity economy practices, such as collaborating with other businesses and communities to achieve common goals and supporting local ventures and community projects.


Social justice

Sumak Kawsay’s philosophy promotes social justice and equity. Companies can adopt practices that promote social justice, such as equal opportunities and promoting diversity in the workplace.

Kalari indigenous cacao is made by women.

Kalari is a brand of Ecuadorian chocolates, cocoa is grown in the Amazon Chakra Kichwa Amazonian Kallari ancestral production system, indigenous practice, a millennial activity that maintains biodiversity, sociocultural, economic, and local governance dynamics, the cradle of the Kichwas of Napo.

This brand is led by the indigenous women of the communities.

They are the leaders of the cooperative, finances, production, and the quality of their products. This change has managed to lift more women out of poverty and has allowed many children to go to school.


At Armo Design we plan to work together with small producers and artisans, sharing knowledge, in workshops, implementing ethical practices for artisans, sustainable practices, and how to improve the community in which they and we live.


  • Kamil Wójcik

    Really interesting philosophy. It would be interesting to see how widely it is utilized in South America and with what results.
    Is there a framework how companies could adapt it? For example comparison with modern western standards, like B corp, biodynamic certification or WWF projects. Chocolate producer Pacari mentioned above is following these, has Pacari taken into account Sumak Kawsay? If so it would be interesting to see the process. Even more interesting would be to see Armo’s strategy how to integrate this philosophy into profitable business model, as well as how to maintain it.
    This is perhaps possibility of creating own standard that would be developed together with the local communities and use it as bench mark for companies willing to enter Ecuador?

    Good luck for Armo <3

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