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Why become an “artisan” in Ecuador? If you get the official classification from the Artisans’ Guild, a lengthy and onerous process, your business is exempt from charging sales tax and you only have to file sales tax receipts twice a year instead of monthly. These at least are the primary reasons why we decided to pursue “artisan” classification.
To get artisan classification, there seem to be two competing organizations that bestow the title. We went with the one with the easiest requirements. This included an inspection of our workshop and answering a number of questions. Supposedly Maria (the owner of the business, officially) will have to attend some classes as well in order to keep the classification and have it renewed on an annual basis.
When Maria first went to apply for the classification, they asked her how much money she had invested (supposedly the threshold for artisans is a maximum $85,000), how many employees she had, and how many years she had been doing “artisan” work. She answered each of these questions, and to each of her answers they told her at the office she had to answer something different to the inspector, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to get the classification. Does something sound funny hear? Maybe they are more interested in just collecting the fees than actually making sure you meet the requirements. I don’t know.
She had to pick up the inspector the next morning, in line with a number of other businesses waiting to become “artisans.” She was number 2, after following the inspector to a hair salon. The inspector came for no more than 2 or 3 minutes, glanced around, asked how many employees she had (two-me and our other employee Leonor), how much money we had invested-$3,000 or so, and how many years she had been working with chocolate (8 was the minimum acceptable answers). The inspector also asked a number of questions about our expenses and revenues, trying to figure out if we were not making very much money; if it was apparent that we might be doing really well, I think they may have invented something on the spot to “disqualify” us. Artisans are supposed to be lower income, at least. here. You know, the whole struggling artist thing…
We are now waiting approximately 8 business days, after which we will be issued the “artisan card” which makes us officially “artisans”.