Salvadorean tilemakers

Image After the 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador, the women´s movement “Las Mélidas” started a tile program. The Melidas workshops have extremely well-kept moulds and have received the EcoSouth quality certificate. The quality of the roofs observed is good. Most of the workshops have an information service for carpenters and two provide a roofing service. While there have been several stumbling blocks for the women upon entering the private market, it is important to remember that the construction materials market is a field totally dominated by men.

Immediately after the earthquakes of January and February, 2001 in El Salvador , the “Women's Movement Mélida Anaya Montes” (“Las Mélidas”), began a tile project. At present five of the “Las Mélidas” workshops are functioning well, some with two sets of equipment. Additional equipment is in the warehouse ready for use.


The first producers´ seminar was held was held in September 2001 and during the next two years several courses focused on production, quality control, equipment maintenance, roof construction, roof design etc.

The Melidas workshops produce good quality and adhere to quality control guidelines. This is revealed in well-kept moulds that are clean and look like new, and all their workshops have received the EcoSouth quality certificate. Until now they have produced 347,000 tiles, which is equivalent to 28'000 m2 or about 400 roofs.

The quality of the roofs observed is good. The majority of the workshops have an information service for carpenters and two of them provide roofing service.

The Market
The market continues to be the stumbling block. At the beginning, most of the tile orders were from housing projects and the groups did not have to worry about sales. However, when they entered the private market, they encountered difficulties and the resulting lack of sales has been discouraging. As a response to the situation, the five groups of “Las Mélidas” have joined together to coordinate their market.

The profitability of the workshops varies greatly. Three have paid their debts and one has bought a piece of land and has set up its workshop. On the other hand, there is a workshop that recently opened in the patio of a private house that has not been able to pay more than a minimum wage to its two workers.

All workshops have similar production costs and it is evident that with a well-established market good salaries can be paid and some reserves can be accumulated, but with sporadic production it is not possible to earn more than what is needed to pay minimum salaries. In Despite this, for the majority of the women, the situation is much better than their previous condition.


A bright future
Other successful workshops exist throughout the country and MCR tiles have a strong position on the building materials market as well as good social acceptance.

It is important to recognize that it is difficult for women to enter the construction materials market, a field totally dominated by men.

However, the feisty women are determined to be successful with their tiles businesses. They have a good visible presence and a good future. Their clients will continue to have a product that can be viewed as “elegant, enduring and economical”.


You are here: Home Past editions Edition #6, September 2004 Salvadorean tilemakers


Bernardo RhynerBernardo Rhyner
Swiss - Canadian
Spanish, English, German and some French.
Construction with ecomaterials, implementation of housing projects


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