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The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, founded in November 2012 and hosted by the Aspen Institute, is a collaborative effort of over 70 artisan businesses, artisan support organizations, corporations, government agencies, and other partners who are working together to promote the full potential of the global artisan sector.  

The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise was created to elevate the importance of the artisan sector, support and grow artisan businesses, and share best practices in a collaborative learning community. 

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Artisan Sector

global artisan sector

Hundreds of thousands of people across the globe participate in the artisan sector

For many, livelihoods depend on income earned from artisan activities. Behind agriculture, artisan activity is the second largest employer in the developing world. Organizing and harnessing the power of this sector to increase sales and efficiency has the potential to create jobs, increase incomes, and foster sustainable community development. Investing in artisans also preserves unique cultural traditions that in many places are at risk of being replaced by lower quality, machine-made products. 

The global artisan sector is fragmented and under-resourced

To date, the potential of artisans worldwide has not been channeled to maximize economic impactGlobally, the artisan sector is significant and growing - international trade in artisan goods more than doubled between 2002 and 2012 to total over $32 billion annually. Over 65% of artisan activity takes place in developing economies. The majority of artisans served are women and small producers working informally. Many artisans lack access to broader markets and face supply chain and market information asymmetries. Artisans work in isolated environments, without business skills, market access, and the financial tools needed to boost production and sales. 

Investing in the artisan sector creates jobs, increases incomes, and promotes cultural heritage

With appropriate support, the artisan sector provides an opportunity to transform the international economic landscape. Better integrating artisans into global commerce will increase the incomes and standard of living of many individuals and their families in the developing world. The untapped development potential of the artisan sector is the focus of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise.