Replication Project: Mecha from Venezuela

mecha chamba

MECHA is a youth-led Creative Cooperative focused on the development and production of original content from a socially-aware, edgy, and thought-provoking point of view. Our work covers a wide range of media, from graphic design, street art, editorial, and more recently animation and transmedia storytelling.
A fundamental part of our mission is giving back to the community with workshops and internships aimed at youth from low-income households. The youth that participates in our programs learn tools to express themselves and transform their expressive hunger into a profession. In that sense, MECHA is also a space for collective construction and aims to channel young people's creative potential towards Graphic Design and Illustration from a social perspective.

The cooperative was founded in Caracas, Venezuela, 10 years ago. During this time, we have produced 2 documentary films, 3 animated documentary series, 2 self-edited books, 1 magazine, 1 radio show, and over 100 visual communication and interactive projects. Unfortunately, the strong economical crisis and the US sanctions have shocked and paralyze the country, making it almost impossible to keep the company in Venezuela. For that reason, we are seeking support to help us relocate the cooperative to Cali, Colombia. There, we’ll continue the production of current projects and we’ll open an experimental school of animated storytelling for Cali’s youth.

Mecha’s main differentiator in the Latin American animated content-creation landscape is having a proven track record of award-winning collective and interdisciplinary creation, together with a shared interest towards social justice and human rights. Having members from the social sciences, art, and design cooperating in each project provides us a unique point of view that combines depth and pertinence of message, with emotion and synthesis in form.

In Cali, the school will serve as a talent incubator for potential new members of the cooperative. The idea is to encourage the more engaged students to work in one of the projects as a paid intern, with the potential to join the cooperative after six months of continuous work.

We believe this continuous cycle of youth education linked to direct work and association opportunities will maintain Mecha as a diverse youth-led organization in time. We see Mecha as a hub for the creative youth in Cali interested in storytelling in general, and in animation in particular.

Additional support needed

Mecha has funding from other donors, and are looking for additional funds to move their project to Colombia.

They need mentoring in two key areas:
1. Governance. Although most of the team is quite accustomed to work following the cooperative principles, we feel it is important having an external mentor/auditor to make sure we are not being stagnant in our cooperative practices, and to keep improving the communication and decision making tools in order to adapt to the youth demographic we hope to partner with.
2. Finance and sustainability. We are creative and artists, so number crunching is one of our main weak spots. We’ll need advisory to better structure the different creative ventures the cooperative has in a way to be more efficient and transparent to all members.