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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. 


How Can Artisan Movements Empower Communities?

Gina Rogari

Courtney Martin, the author of "The New Better Off," keeps one thing in mind when her 3-year-old is throwing a tantrum: The root of all tantrums is about belonging or significance. But this is easily translated to perhaps the root of much of human behavior, Martin said.

Questions of belonging – and of mattering – are at the root of the empowerment that is spread and created in artisan movements. Indeed, artisan enterprise around the world increases local incomes, preserves ancient cultures, and provides employment for hundreds of thousands of people around the world, especially for women. At the Aspen Institute, the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise community is building a support system for artisan entrepreneurs across the globe.

 “The artisan sector creates peace, it signals to women that they are significant, and it helps people find belonging in their own communities and economic sectors around the world,” said Martin.

A holistic empowerment

Building artisan capacity is one of the most holistic ways to empower vulnerable communities, said Alisa Roadcup, executive director of Heshima Kenya. Heshima, which means “dignity and respect” in Swahili -  works with orphaned and unaccompanied refugee girls to provide a lifeline of support and hope after they have been through harrowing traumas and egregious circumstances. Many development programs that Roadcup saw in East Africa were focused on one aspect of response to these traumas: education, for example, or resettlement.  But Heshima works with girls who might, for example, have fled a life of servitude in the militia in the Congo: The organization assesses the case on a variety of factors. These include education levels, psychosocial needs, legal and medical issues, education, and childcare, as many of the girls have fled with their children. One of the most crucial aspects, though, is the social enterprise component of their programs. Through an aspect of their work called the Maisha Collective, young women make handbags and scarves which are sold on Etsy. The majority of girls who are involved in this collective – about 70 percent – go onto become economically independent, a statistic well above the average. The independence and skill-building that involvement in the artisan craft sector fosters in the girls and women that Heshima works with are an often overlooked part of international aid systems, but this should not be the case.

“A holistic approach is fundamental: healing, recovery, and self-actualization as leaders in their own right,” said Roadcup.

Empowerment for generations

Building capacity through the economic empowerment of artisan craftship does not only holistically empower the female artisan, according to Karen Sherman, executive director of the Akilah Institute for Women. The Akilah Institute is an education-to-workforce model that helps women to access the workforce, another form of pushing for women’s access to income-generation. She has found that working in crafts-based production like the artisan sector has shown to be a lifeline for vulnerable women.  One of the women she worked with found solace and a way to support herself through knitting. Her life was completely uprooted during the war in Bosnia: this woman went from living with her husband, children, and her parents to being forced to flee her home after her husband was taken away for hard labor. She had been kidnapped and tortured by soldiers. But she connected with Women for Women International, and decided that she would use knitting for an income – and look to the future with optimism. “Those soldiers – I want them to see that I am still alive. They did not kill me – not my body, not my soul,” she said.

In a different country, Rwanda, a 9-year-old girl named Bridget was taking care of her three younger siblings when their parents were killed in the Rwandan genocide. After spending more than three years in a refugee camp, she was working to make clothes in order to pay rent and buy food. After joining ABC, a social enterprise started by Kate Spade, she learned to produce handbags and other brands. Since she began working there, she has opened a bank account, been promoted twice, and took out a loan to buy land and build a house.

“These two stories may seem completely different, but they’re actually the same. Both of these women survived war and genocide. Both of them picked themselves up through their own means, and were able not only to transform their lives but invest in their children and family,” said Sherman.

Building communities

Bolstering artisan networks also has powerful effects on the community, not just the individual. Enaam Barrishi, Director General of the Jordan River Foundation, works in Jordan through the Jordan River Foundation to empower women in remote areas of Jordan with knowledge, skills, and training in entrepreneurship and handicrafts production. Behind these goals is the overarching idea to enhance the socioeconomic status of the women – with the ultimate end of enhancing their families and whole communities. The Foundation does this through three components: a project focused on wool weaving where women produce carpets and wall hangings; an embroidery collective; and a component where women use banana leaves – which typically are burned in the communities – to produce baskets and other items.

Jordan is under enormous infrastructure pressure due to an influx of Syrian refugees, which UNHCR estimates is registered at 650,000. Including the unregistered refugees, however, puts estimates at over 1 million. Only 20 percent of these refugees live in camps, and others are relocated to host communities, which Barrishi said can put a large amount of pressure on resources, and creates competition between Syrian and Jordanian women.  

“We look at this project as a way to address this crisis so that it becomes a development opportunity – not only providing women with access to employment, but to address social cohesion. We encourage women to work together, to build skills with people of different experience and backgrounds,” Barrishi said.

By working together to build a product, the women empower their communities – together.

Dismantling perception

Artisan work also has the power to transform the perception of refugees and vulnerable communities around the world. A new initiative through UNHCR plans to create a marketing platform and help to build the livelihood of refugees through facilitating growth in the artisan sector. The artisan sector, along with the agricultural sector and teleworking, has been identified as a safe value chain for refugees to enter.  But unlike these sectors, the artisan sector also has the ability to transform perceptions of refugee work. Looking at the handcrafted goods created by refugees helps people to change their stereotypes of how they believe refugees behave in a country. The UNHCR initiative plans to work with strategic technical partners – like social enterprises in different countries, designers, and logistic specialists – to provide seed funding and design input.

“By working and creating these products, we will be able to unite refugees themselves,” said Sasibai Kimis, with Earth Heir.

This conversation took place during the conversation "The Power of Handmade in Waging Peace" at the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise event Handmade is Human.


Handmade is Human at the Aspen Institute

Gina Rogari

"Handmade reveals our deepest humanity," Peggy Clark posited on December 2, 2016 to launch this year's annual meeting of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, Handmade is Human. Now more than ever, we need to think about how to integrate artisans into global commerce, recognize the makers behind our products, and recognize what ties together people, cultures, and places around the world.

Every year, the Alliance hosts a gathering of members and friends in a vibrant, welcoming space to explore key learnings and innovations in the artisan sector. On December 2, 2016, over 75 artisan business leaders, partners, and advocates joined the Alliance team at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC for Handmade is Human.

At Handmade is Human, discussions ranged from how to unlock economic value in the artisan sector and the power of handmade in waging peace to questioning "how should we talk about handmade?" Ambassador Catherine Russell reflected on our accomplishments and challenges, Morgan Stanley's Alejandro Calderon introduced the idea of a Donor-Advised Fund for Artisans, and new and old faces took the stage to share their work and passion. Sector leaders and innovators met with artisans and business owners, building new connections and exploring how the process of hand craftsmanship reveals our deepest humanity.

"Working and creating with your hands is the oldest expression of man. The know-how of tradition is passed down from generation to generation for centuries, even millenia; it is part of our DNA, in our ancestral memory" - Marta Cucchia, Laboratorio Giuditta Brozzetti

Review the full agenda and speaker bios, and stay in touch with the Alliance on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for further updates!

Polish Ceramics: Ancient As Greek?

Gina Rogari

This guest post was provided by Kinga Szydzinska of My Poland. Read more about traditional Polish crafts on the My Poland website!

Polish grey ceramics can be traced back to 1300-500 B.C.

Grey ceramics is the most unique pottery and has the oldest traditions in Poland. Grey pots - in other words dishes manufactured with the use of that technique - appeared on the Polish soil in ancient times. They can be traced by to Luzyce culture (1300-500 B.C.), Celtic times (3rd century B.C.), and Roman times (0-400 A.D.). As you can see - gray ceramics are as old as the famous Greek pots, and equally beautiful - even though they are not as richly ornamented. 

Polished ornamental adornments can be found on dishes from Roman times that are identical to contemporary ones. It proves that the gray pots technique has changed only slightly over centuries. Research proves that grey ceramics were popular all over Poland. Gradually, due to the development of glazing ceramics, the ancient technique was pushed out of different Polish regions, remaining solely in eastern Poland. Now, grey pottery is produced solely in one village in Poland.

Traditional Workshops

Pottery workshops in Poland have been cultivating the 18th century traditions of grey pottery using the same adornments and shapes in accordance with traditions passed on from past generations of potters. Every potter his his own pattern and adornments.

The making of grey pots is customarily called "grey pots suffocating." Dishes are rolled on a potter's wheel. Once they are formed, they are adorned. Next, they dry for up to a dozen days. Following, the potter prepares a mixture of ground lead and sand. A pot is covered with this mixture to ensure adequate coating density. Then, dishes are locked in a furnace for 13-14 hours. The burning temperature can reach up to 950 degrees Celcius. Only traditional furnaces can be used for the production of grey pottery, where charcoal is used as fuel. The grey hue is achieved through oxygen reduction from iron compounds contained in clay. The smooth surface and shine is owed to a smoothing process, which involves the grinding of a partly-dried dish with an ordinary flint stone. 

y Poland offers original Polish handicraft and takes care of its worldwide promotion. Their passion is discovering real pearls of handicraft. My Poland offers authentic and unique products made by masters - licensed folk artists and reputed craftsmen. The organization cooperates with individual consumers, diplomatic posts, and companies. My Poland products are delivered worldwide; shop online!

Interested in contributing a guest post on the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise blog? Email gina.rogari@aspeninst.orgtoday!

Scaling Fair Trade: Lessons from GlobeIn

Gina Rogari

This guest post was provided by Liza Moiseeva of GlobeIn. Read more from Liza on the GlobeIn blog!

It started with a box. A social business startup dreamt of connecting artisans in developing countries to the global marketplace using a subscription model. This became GlobeIn's Artisan Box. In one year, GlobeIn grew its business by sixteen times to over $1 million in annual revenue. Here are the lessons learnt along the way...

Recently, I started hearing more and more from amazing, driven women who want to start companies that work with artisans, farmers, human trafficking victims, and so forth.

These women are GlobeIn customers who have been inspired to make a difference in the world. I applaud you. And, I am happy to share our experience so that your social business journey is an easy one (just kidding – that never happens). This post is for you and for anyone passionate about creating a sustainable positive impact in the world.

Below are the key 5 lessons we at GlobeIn learned while growing, pivoting, and scaling up our business over the last 3 years.


GlobeIn started as an “Etsy” for the developing world. There was an obvious consumer demand for artisan made crafts, but not all crafts are created equal. When we launched the alpha version of the Artisan Box, we sent our customers a box full of 3-5 products from a new country every month.

But, there was a problem.

These products were typical products you’d find in a bazaar in Ghana, Mexico, or Guatemala. These were tchotchke, souvenir-type items that one doesn’t need in everyday life.

Only when we drastically improved our curation process, established higher quality standards, and focused on practical products that an average American woman could fit into her lifestyle, we saw our subscriber base growing.

The best example of this approach is TOMS. The company managed to grow its business to $625 million valuation not just by using its heart-warming and ever-so-simple business model “One for One,” but by making a product that clearly appealed to their audience in design, quality, and price.

Here’s the piece of advice that stuck with me the most from this year’s Fair Trade Federation Conference said by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s: If you don't design for US market, don't expect to own even a minuscule percentage of that market.


I know, I know. Fair trade is all about helping artisans and farmers lift themselves out of poverty. It is why I am here. It is why GlobeIn is here.

But here’s a realization I quickly came to: if you don’t give your customers what they want and keep them happy, you won’t be of much help to your artisans: Artisans are why we started the business; customers are the reason why we are in business.

This transcends the first point of product first – you have to listen to your customers, to learn from them, and to provide exceptional customer service. You might be surprised but just the fact that you are a social business or a nonprofit doesn’t mean that your customers will let your slow customer service slide.

At GlobeIn our mission is two-fold – to curate amazing artisan products at the best-possible prices for our customers and by doing so to create sustainable recurring revenues for the artisans.


Since GlobeIn’s main product is the Artisan Box, many of our customers subscribe to other monthly boxes and. Unsurprisingly, they compare their Artisan Boxes to other lifestyle subscriptions like PopSugarMustHave or FabFitFun. I apologize if these names don’t mean anything to you, because, well, they have nothing to do with conscious consumption. These are lifestyle boxes full of cheap manufactured products.

It’s hard for GlobeIn to compete with product budgets of other boxes. We have to pay artisans fair wages when other subscription boxes can pay pennies. But, we have to constantly keep finding a solution to this puzzle – how to provide the best value to the customer while paying fair wages to artisans. It sounds difficult, but when you realize that solving this puzzle determines whether you make it as a business, you do it.

As you are competing with traditional for-profit businesses, make sure that you learn from them along the way. For example, my personal subscription to Le Tote taught me the ultimate importance of the tissue paper – the one that keeps your box so neat and tidy.

Look up to the best in business (social or not), set ambitious growth goals, and constantly work on improving your product or service.


If you are a retailer with any significant operations, you know what I mean. If you are a newcomer who wants to build a retail business (online or offline), just Google it.

A typical retail company starts planning its collections up to 9 months before it hits the store. That’s because they are ordering hundreds of thousands of products.

If you are a boutique fair trade store ordering a few hundred of any given product, you probably don’t have to plan that far in advance. However, if you are a social business that wants to scale, you will need to plan at least 6 months in advance, especially if you are dealing with handmade artisan goods.

This is when you get a loan that will help you finance your product sourcing long before you receive products (and even longer before you make any profit).

Even the most cash-rich e-commerce company wouldn’t be able to finance their inventory with profits.

Even better, as a social business or nonprofit you can get this type of loan from an impact investing company that would be much more understanding about your longer return horizons and much more appreciative of the social impact you create. RSF Social Finance is a good example of an impact investor providing such financial tools.


The majority of your sales (60-70 percent) will happen between October 15th and December 15th, so plan accordingly.

Are you a fair trade company or a social business? Are there any mistakes you’ve made along the way or piece of advice other changemakers can learn from? Please share in the comments below.

Every month, the GlobeIn Artisan Box delivers a fresh collection of useful and enthralling items from around the world. As an Artisan Box Subscriber, you learn about the products and the people who made them while discovering simpler ways to live a more fulfilled lifestyle. By subscribing to the GlobeIn Artisan Box, you can feel good about the products you use, the people you support and how your choices contribute to a better world.

Learn more and order the GlobeIn artisan box on their website! Interested in contributing a guest post on the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise blog? Email today!

Twelve Artisan Entrepreneurs Showcased at TEDWomen 2016

Gina Rogari

The artisan sector is the second largest employer in the developing world, yet it is overlooked and under-resourced by traditional development efforts. This October, the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise and twelve extraordinary artisan entrepreneurs took the TED stage to show the world why the artisan sector matters. October 26-27, the Alliance featured 12 artisan entrepreneurs in San Francisco at the Global Showcase, an immersive experience of people, place and product curated exclusively for TEDWomen - the premier women's conference in the world! 


The theme of the 2016 TEDWomen conference was "It's About Time." We agree! It's about time policymakers, investors, and influencers around the world recognize the impact of the artisan economy. Do you believe #ItsAboutTime we #ChooseArtisan? Share your messages on social media, and follow the Alliance on Facebook and Twitter


The 12 artisan businesses that participated in the TEDWomen Global Showcase represent the amazing diversity, commitment, and impact of the entire Alliance for Artisan Enterprise community. Together, they employ over 6,300 artisans, support tens of thousands of family members, and have rediscovered hundreds of ancient techniques across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. Explore all twelve of their stories, crafts, and cultures


At the Global Showcase, attendees explored and shopped an exclusive collection of handcrafted products, including woven textiles, beaded jewelry, and embroidered accessories. Did you miss this year's conference? Shop the showcase online:

  1. Gahaya Links | traditional handwoven Agaseke baskets
  2. Heshima Kenya | hand-dyed scarves and textiles
  3. ROOTS of South Sudan | hand-beaded jewelry
  4. Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco | handwoven clothing, homeware and other textiles
  5. Manos del Uruguay | handwoven textiles and yarn
  6. Mercado Global | handwoven accessories and homeware
  7. Paula Mendoza | handcrafted gold and emerald jewelry
  8. TRIA ETC | handcrafted accessories, jewelry, and homeware
  9. Fibre Tibet | hand-spun and handwoven scarves and textiles
  10. Kandahar Treasure | traditional Khamak embroidery
  11. Turquoise Mountain | handcrafted jewelry, painted  and traditional woodworking
  12. Yawanawa Handicrafts Initiative | hand-beaded jewelry telling stories of indigenous people


The Global Showcase was made possible through the generous support of the Artisan Partners Circle. We are so thankful for your efforts to increase the visibility of artisan entrepreneurs across the globe. Are you looking to get more involved with the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise? Learn more about the Global Showcase here, or email Gina Rogari at with questions or partnership requests. Artisan businesses, support organizations, and others, consider becoming a member of the Alliance community today!

International Folk Art Market Artists Consider Credit-Readiness

Gina Rogari

This July, the International Folk Art Alliance (IFAA), partners, and friends celebrated the 13th annual International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Over 180 artists and thousands of guests from around the world gathered on Museum Hill for the largest market in the organization's history. Gahaya Links shared its handwoven peace baskets, Kandahar Treasure unveiled new embroidered scarves and robes, and ROOTS of South Sudan received the Market's Community Impact Reward, honoring artists who are an extraordinary example of the IFAA mission by positively impacting social change in their communities.

The IFAA team celebrates and preserves living folk art traditions and creates economic opportunities for and with artists worldwide, impacting artists' lives beyond one weekend of sales. The weeks leading up to the annual market include workshops, activities, and other opportunities for artists to learn and build sustainable relationships with the IFAA team and with one another. Part of this year's programming included a full day of technical workshops. The Alliance joined artists from around the world in a workshop on the Alliance-Kiva Artisan Loan Program, "Am I Ready for an Artisan Business Loan?" 

Participants examined their yearly sales and expenses and determined how a loan could benefit their businesses. Artists from Mexico and Bolivia to Kyrgyzstan agreed their main business goals included maintaining craft traditions for the next generation. Succeeding in today's market ensures the viability of those traditions, and increases the desire for young people to learn traditional crafts and carry on family businesses.

To create a sustainable business, however, artists often lack capital and other financial resources to grow their product lines, client bases, and marketing materials. Artists explored the possibility of using a small loan to cover market fees (like their International Folk Art Market booths), raw material costs, and even hiring additional artisan workers. Still, artists around the world face unique barriers: uneven payment cycles, high raw material and shipping costs, and more. 

The Alliance-Kiva Artisan Loan Program allows Alliance members and partners to access 0% financing to succeed in today's market. Without capital, artists often work order-to-order, nurturing fragile businesses and lacking the skills and training to grow. Are you ready for an artisan business loan? Contact the Alliance team at to learn more about the resources available for the businesses in our network, or to think about the requirements for an artisan business loan. 

Miss this year's celebration? Mark your calendar for next year's market, July 14-17, 2017. Alliance members and artists - it's not too late to apply! Complete an online application by September 1, 2016 for the 2017 market. For the first time ever, the selection criteria includes innovation in traditional product design. Questions? Contact today.

Optimism and Opportunity at GES2016

Gina Rogari

In its 7th year, the Global Entrepreneurship Summit gathered entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, and government partners from over 170 countries around the world at Stanford University, the heart of Silicon Valley. The Alliance joined President Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Secretary of State John Kerry, and countless other innovators and thought leaders eager to make lasting, sustainable change in today's world.

"Simply put," Secretary of State John Kerry remarked, "what you and past generations of entrepreneurs have already achieved has brought about a revolution in our world right now." Other speakers echoed the need to take risks and abandon the status quo in pursuit of creating solutions to the biggest needs facing our world. 

The Summit is a place for men and women of a vast range of age and experience to share learnings and best practices, connect, and grow. President Obama recognized the ever-present need to put more "tools, more resources into the hands of these folks are changing the world." But, lasting change surpasses tools and funding. We must be building a community, "making sure that all of you know each other so that you can share best practices and ideas, and spread the word."

The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise recognizes our community of members as challenging the existing framework for artisan enterprises, cooperatives, and retailers across the globe. Our shared voice amplifies your unique messages, challenges, and cultures. Together, we can break down barriers that no single organization could take on alone. As President Obama noted, "I believe all of you represent the upside of an interconnected world, all the optimism and hope and opportunity that the interconnected world represents."

The Global Entrepreneurship Summit took place June 22-24, 2016 at Stanford University. Find more information, a full schedule, photos, and key recordings on the GES2016 website. Follow the Alliance on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for real-time updates!

Celebrating 100 Members with Estrella de Mar

Gina Rogari

"Love is the message, fashion is the medium"

This month, the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise celebrates reaching over 100 members and partners. We are so grateful for the support and commitment of our community to the advancement of the artisan sector around the world. Together, we are able to shine a bright light on the social, economic, and cultural value of artisan enterprise.

In celebration of reaching this milestone, our community especially welcomes Estrella de Mar, our 100th member! Estrella de Mar was founded in 2012 by Emily Pinto and Julie Savoie. The organization strives to empower artisan partners and preserve ancient textile traditions in Guatemala.

Estrella de Mar provides financial empowerment through dignified employment. The brand works with worker-owned women's weaving cooperatives and small family businesses to produce handwoven homeware and accessories, sharing a commitment to ethical, sustainable practices and high-quality results.

The methods used in crafting Estrella de Mar pieces have been practiced for thousands of years in Guatemala. The organization's founders place a special focus on choosing producers: "who we work with matters." Each artisan is incredibly skilled at her craft, but requires access to international markets to earn a living wage. Estrella de Mar focuses on women artisans, because women, founder Emily Pinto says, "hold the key to creating long-term positive change in their communities."  

The brand takes a collaborative approach to design, integrating local expertise with modern and bohemian designs. Its founders focus on quality, commitment, and a true sense of place. Ultimately, the handmade process becomes a labor of love. Handmade production, Pinto emphasizes, "honors people and planet; that's why we say 'love is the message, fashion is the medium.'"

Learn more about Estrella de Mar on their website, and stay in touch on Facebook and Instagram! Photos by Jasmine Luoma.  

Are you interested in becoming a member of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise? Learn more about the membership process and complete an application. Find a full list of Alliance members here!

Mela Artisans + Kiva Provides Stable Employment for Kashmiri Embroiderers

Gina Rogari

In 2015, the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise supported Sonali of Mela Artisans with a Kiva loan for artisans in Kashmir, India who craft beautiful pillows for the NY-based company. The loan was funded within days and the pillows have been a hit with customers. The Kiva loan has illustrated that small injections of capital can be catalytic at the grassroots level. So much so, that this year Sonali has taken another loan through the Alliance's Artisan Loan Program to fund an inventive group of artisans in South India. 

To fully understand why it's imperative to support these artisan groups - and make them the face of manufacturing - we go to Kashmir, a region that has been struck by warn, internal conflict, and messy politics. All this strife has meant little economic development: tourism, Kashmir's largest source of revenue, has taken a major hit with visitors too frightened to visit the state's majestic vistas. So, how can locals connect with the global market and get out of this slump?

Mela Artisans found the answer at the base of the Himalayas in a group of women who are modernizing zalakdozi hook embroidery, which resembles crochet and dates back to the 1400s. Scarves, bedding, sheets, clothing - all forms of textiles - are enhanced with this hook stitch in patterns that sing of Kashmir: saffron, tulips, lotus, and lilies.

"I love the curves of this particular kind of chain stitch and the surface treatment it creates," says Dipali Patwa, Chief Creative Officer at Mela Artisans. "The beauty of this stitch is the artisan's ability to curve and follow the shape. The understanding of how big or small the stitch should be defines how intricate the patterns can get."

Brought over by Damascus craftsmen and popularized under Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin's rule, one of the most revered rulers of Kashmir who governed from 1420 to 1470, the embroidery is an art form passed down through the generations. Yet, such a deeply entrenched heritage is struggling in the modern era. Artisans lack constant supply of work. Payments dwindle in slowly. It's hard to make a living by stitching.

"If we are able to create a sustainable order stream for these women, the potential impact on the livelihoods of their families and kids would be tremendous and that inspires me," says Patwa.

Hunarmand, a Kashmir-based nonprofit working with Mela, is creating opportunities for these women by opening more markets for their beautifully stitched products. Jahangir Ahmed Bhat, Project Manager for Hunarmand in Sringagar, says, "there is satisfaction in the work." A post-graduate, specializing in craft management, he hails from rural Kashmir. Bhat is compelled by the women who practice this art.

"Whenever we receive an order, that really brings energy and hope in us. I immediately start visualizing the impact of the order and the changes work will bring in the lives of women."

Bhat's hometown, Kulgam, lies 68 km outsid eof Srinagar; known as the "rice bowl of Kashmir," it's a deeply agrarian community with most people growing rice, apples, or raising livestock. Nestled in front of the Peer Panchal range of mountains, the innermost range of the Himalayas, Kulgam has a surreal landscape. Yet, life can be strenuous for locals.

Tasleema Akhter, a master artisan who know works with Bhat, grew up in Kulgam as well. Her parents passed away when she was very young; she, and her three siblings, were raised by her grandmother who was "left to fend for us," Akhter recalls. To make a living, they reared cattle. Embroidery was a childhood pastime. 

At 8 years of age, she was learning how to perfect hook stitches with her relatives. Embroidery stayed as a hobby for years - until 4 years ago when she signed up to work with INTACH, India's National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage, a project that started in 1984 to help artisans around the country. Now, she says, "work is worship."

The transition from hobby to a serious source of income started when she was 16: she began working as an individual artisan for local traders. "There was no financial security as the work used to be irregular," she says. "Most of my time, I was sitting idle."

Work was underpaid and payments trickled in long after they were due. Then, after five years, she decided to join an artisan group like Hunarmand, which means "skillful." "Actually, here it means skillful women," says Bhat. 

Akhter became one of these skillful women. Today, she is regarded as a master artisan and supervises other women who are learning the craft. Operating in a group was the answer, she recognizes.

"The artisan group provides equal working opportunities to all of its members and is working as a unit."

Accessing capital through the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise + Kiva Artisan Loan Program allowed Sonali and the Mela Artisans team to create sustainable, reliable employment for their artisan partners in Kashmir. The loan helped Mela Artisans expand its line of artisan products to include these embroidered pillows, and market them on its global platform. 

Learn more about the Artisan Loan Program on the Alliance website. Members, think about how you could use capital to grow your business, and apply for a small loan today!

This guest post was provided by Mela Artisans. Read more from The World of Mehta.  

Cultural Sustainability in the Age of Globalization

Gina Rogari

On May 12, 2016, participants gathered at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC for a symposium on Cultural Sustainability in the Age of Globalization. Hosted by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the event convened leaders and innovators working to sustain local artistic practices and cultural identities. 

Participants spanned the Americas, Bhutan, and Benin. They included Goucher College professors, members of the Southwest Folklife Alliance and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Alliance for Artisan Enterprise members Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco and the Self-Employed Women's Association, and singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo

The Queen Mother of Bhutan, founder of the Royal Textile Academy, launched the Symposium by introducing "Gross National Happiness," or "development with values." She sees the national arts as living arts; to preserve those arts through the future, we must take advantage of the opportunities provided by globalization. Her message was echoed by Professor Amy Skillman and Angelique Kidjo: we need to accept the diversity of culture that exists in this world, be proud of it, and fight for it. Respect for culture flows from understanding and preserving the traditions of our ancestors. We cannot escape culture, but we can work together to preserve its techniques and respect its diversity.

These issues reach societies across the globe, from major cities in Arizona to indigenous villages in the Andes of Peru. Without recognition and appreciation for cultural heritage, traditions are lost. Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez founded the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco to ensure the weaving techniques of her ancestors would not disappear. She recognizes both the inherent beauty of the ancient practices, and its economic potential. Through the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, Nilda both archives traditional weaving techniques and provides stable employment for women and families. Reema Nanavaty, Director of Economic and Rural Empowerment for the Self-Employed Women's Association in India, finds similar economic value in traditional crafts. Many craftspeople, especially women, participate in the informal sector. Their handiwork is not recognized as "work." To achieve recognition in society, these traditions must be organized as real work with real value. 

People around the world must recognize the power of culture and traditional arts. Increased access to information, markets, the Internet, and other opportunities can serve those cultures. Together, educational bodies like the Smithsonian, businesses like the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, and today's musicians and artists can work in harmony to both preserve traditional arts, and keep their spirit alive. Failure to act, however, may result in the disappearance of ancient practices forever.  

"It touches everybody. That is the power of culture." (Angelique Kidjo).

Learn more about the Symposium from the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage: Photos by the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco and the Self-Employed Women's Association

Unlocking Artisan Economic Development: How to Increase Value to Support Small-Scale Producers

Gina Rogari

April 13-15, 2016, nearly 1,000 leaders from over 60 countries descended upon Oxford's Said Business School for the Skoll World Forum. The annual gathering of thought leaders pushes the boundaries on global innovation and social change. 

This year, Forum topics ranged from immersive storytelling and moral decision-making to social ROI for small-scale agriculture. Alliance director Peggy Clark hosted a delegate-led discussion on the artisan economy entitled Unlocking Artisan Economic Development: How to Increase Value to Support Small-Scale Producers. She was joined by Alliance members Heshima Kenya, Mela Artisans, and Coca-Cola to share stories, challenges, and opportunities in the artisan sector across the supply chain. They explored entrepreneurial approaches to artisan financing, the value of partnerships, and more. 

The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise believes collaboration and shared learnings foster increased awareness and economic progress for artisans around the world. Join our community and #ChooseArtisan to tell the world the artisan sector matters.  

Watch highlights from the Skoll Foundation, and stay involved with #skollwf until next year's Forum!

"Doing Good is Good Business" - #SocialGoodBiz @ SXSW

Gina Rogari

On March 15, 2016, Alliance director Peggy Clark joined Dani Lachowicz of Bloom + Grace, Devi Thomas of UN Foundation's Shot@Life Campaign, and Sarah Aitken of iris Worldwide gathered in Austin, Texas at SXSW's SXGood Hub to discuss #socialgoodbiz.

Conversation focused on "Social Good Business: Benefits, Barriers, Branding." The four women discussed challenges of working in the artisan sector, the increased consumer demand for sustainable goods, and the value of the global handmade marketplace.

"Doing good is good business. It just makes sense!" emphasized Dani. Founded in 2013, her organization Bloom + Grace now works with artisans in Indonesia, Cambodia, and Kenya to craft jewelry that impacts lives around the world. To increase the power of each piece, the organization has partnered with the UN Foundation's Shot@Life Campaign; each piece provides lifesaving vaccinations to children in developing countries.

Still, working with artisans comes with a wide range of challenges; Dani faces communication gaps, quality control issues, and timeline barriers. These issues are not isolated to Bloom + Grace. The artisan sector is a $32B industry around the world, with approximately two-thirds of artisan activity taking place in developing countries. The distance between women working in rural Kenyan communities and the U.S. market is astronomical. With consumers becoming increasingly interested in knowing where their products come from, business owners need to address their demand sustainably. This presents an entirely new market opportunity for the artisan sector, parallel to the pioneering Fair Trade coffee movement. 

Together, let's build an ecosystem of organizations like Bloom + Grace to address the gaps between producers, retailers, suppliers, and consumers. With a focus on sustainability and shared learnings, we can together tackle the sector barriers that no single organization can achieve alone. 

Thank you UN Foundation, Bloom + Grace, Shot@Life, and iris Worldwide for your participation and continued support! Learn more about the panel here

Move #WomenForward with the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise

Gina Rogari

March 8, 2016, the Alliance celebrated International Women’s Day with the Aspen ASCEND program at the Aspen Forum on Women & Girls: Conversations Across Generations. The Forum was co-hosted by Alliance Director Peggy Clark and ASCEND’s Anne Mosle to explore a nuanced approach to women’s issues.

The program featured an array of explosive, thought-provoking women discussing violence, progress, barriers, and opportunities for women around the world. Moderator Melissa Harris Perry launched the Forum with the question, “Is the frame of ‘woman’ even useful?" 

During the two-day event, Melissa, Alicia Garza (Black Lives Matter), Reema Nanavaty (SEWA), Kavita Ramdas (Ford Foundation), Tina Tchen (White House), and others began unpacking the complex issues facing women. Recognizing intersectionalities will allow us to better tackle systemic inequalities that continue to exist in the 21st century. With diverse workforces, diverse leadership, and increased awareness, we can overcome the largest barriers facing women every day. 

Still, poverty and injustice remain. As Reema solemnly noted, “Poverty is violence with the consent of society.” The artisan sector is a major employer of women around the world, providing sustainable livelihoods and supporting entire communities. Still, there are disconnects between education, technology, traditional skills, and the global marketplace. Policymakers, financial institutions, and other leaders do not perceive artisan businesses as economically viable.

As consumer demand for artisan work increases, we need to recognize the complexities in the artisan sector and ensure artisans, especially women, have access to fair wages, appropriate resources, and respect.  

Through our network of over 75 members and partners, the Alliance strives to tackle this economic inequity. Together, we can tackle systemic barriers and elevate the importance of the artisan sector. Join the movement to push #WomenForward. Start by deciding to #ChooseArtisan.

Read more about the need for a nuanced approach to women’s issues in the Huffington Post, written by Peggy Clark and Anne Mosle, here.

Follow key moments from the Forum on the Alliance’s Twitter feed, and read more from ASCEND. See a full agenda from the Forum here. Cartoons from the event were drawn by Jen Sorensen

Over 50 Supporters #ChooseArtisan at NYNOW

Gina Rogari

January 31 through February 2, the Alliance joined 9 of our members at the biannual NYNOW gift show. Over 2,500 exhibitors gathered at the Javits Convention Center in New York City, sharing Handmade, Home, and Lifestyle products with retailers, media, and other exhibitors. The market also included a special seminar series for businesses to learn, network, and grow. 

The Alliance shared the #ChooseArtisan campaign with artisan businesses, supporters, other exhibitors, and retailers at the market. For three days, the #ChooseArtisan social wall was updating in real-time in the market's social media lounge. The Alliance staff visited our member organizations and other artisan businesses and support organizations throughout the show to raise awareness about the value of the artisan economy. Over 50 artisan businesses and supporters joined the campaign, including Jonathan Adler, John Robshaw, TO THE MARKET, and Yellow Leaf Hamomcks! Follow the Alliance on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see more wonderful content!

Alliance members at NYNOW included:

  • AOW Handmade
  • ByHand Consulting
  • Fibre Tibet
  • Global Girlfriend
  • Global Goods Partners
  • Mela Artisans
  • NYNOW / Artisan Resource 
  • Sasa Designs by the Deaf
  • Threads of Peru

Interested in joining the Alliance network? Learn more about membership and complete an application today! Continue using #ChooseArtisan on social media to share why the artisan sector matters to you, and stay in touch with the Alliance to learn more about participating in global markets like NYNOW. 

Use Your Purchasing Power for Good This Holiday Season

Gina Rogari

Happy Small Business Saturday! This holiday season, the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise urges our members, partners, and supporters to use their purchasing power for good - #ShopSmall and #ChooseArtisan.

American Express launched Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage people across the United States to support small and local businesses. In 2014, American Express estimates that over $14 billion was spent at small, independent businesses. The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise is proud to support this holiday shopping tradition. 

The Alliance was created to elevate the power and potential of the artisan sector 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. 

This holiday season, remember the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise. Handcrafted goods are high-quality and unique, and they share stories of culture and heritage. Buying artisan work protects the livelihoods of women entrepreneurs around the world.

As Secretary of State John Kerry remarked at Artisan Enterprise: The New Startup Economy in September 2015, "There is a hunger to remain connected to our roots and to value products that are crafted with really unique skills and with attention to detail. There's an honesty and authenticity in those products that is hard to find in a lot of other places. There's a hunger to make a difference and to help people who deserve help so that they, in turn, can take advantage of new opportunities and thereby contribute to a more diverse, sustainable, and equitable global economy." 

Contribute to a more equitable global economy. This December, the Alliance will feature our members that produce and sell artisan goods. Follow @AllianceArtisan on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay involved. Learn about communities around the world that participate in the artisan sector. Remember that handmade is human - #ShopSmall and #ChooseArtisan. 

Feel free to reach out to with any questions!


Small Business Saturday: #ShopSmall and #ChooseArtisan

Gina Rogari

This holiday season, the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise is proud to support #ShopSmall.

Over half of the Alliance’s member organizations are artisan businesses – organizations that work directly with artisans around the world to design, produce, and sell handcrafted products. These businesses work with artisans in local communities around the world, many in developing countries, to produce high-quality, handcrafted goods. Each piece tells a story of culture, heritage, people, and place.

Starting on Small Business Saturday, November 28, 2015, #ShopSmall and #ChooseArtisan. Use your purchasing power for good by supporting artisan businesses around the world. This holiday season, the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise will feature our members that sell handcrafted goods; visit their online stores and find gifts that tell stories of diverse cultures around the world.

Shop our members today:

Tell the world you #ShopSmall and #ChooseArtisan – be sure to share your purchases on social media and tag the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise!

Learn more about the current members of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise here. Interested in becoming a member? Click here to learn more. Email with any questions about using your purchasing power for good this holiday season. 

Thunderclap Reaches 2.5 Million People

Gina Rogari

On November 6, 2015, the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise engaged over 2.5 million people on social media with messages supporting the global artisan sector.

The Alliance is spreading awareness about the economic and social value of handcrafted goods in the Global Campaign for Artisan Enterprise. The campaign began with the #ChooseArtisan Thunderclap, a social media “flash mob” that provided a platform for 585 supporters to share messages on Twitter and Facebook about why they support the artisan sector. Thunderclap supporters included Acumen founder Jacqueline Novogratz,, and chef José Andrés; on November 6, 2015, messages reached over 2.5 million people. 

“The Global Campaign is an opportunity to shine a bright light on talented artisans and entrepreneurs all over the world,” said Peggy Clark, vice president of policy programs at the Aspen Institute and director of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise. “Most people still do not understand the full economic value of the artisan sector.” 

The global market for handcrafted goods is worth over $32 billion every year. Two-thirds of handicrafts are produced in developing countries, mainly by women. Still, artisan enterprises are rarely understood as drivers of economic growth or contributors to sustainable livelihoods.

The #ChooseArtisan movement continues on the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise Social Wall, a real-time interactive hub for artisans and supporters. The Social Wall compiles posts using the #ChooseArtisan hashtag and exhibits the extraordinary diversity and reach of artisan craft. The Global Campaign for Artisan Enterprise is just beginning – organizations, individuals, multilaterals, and policymakers are encouraged to get involved in the movement to promote the power and potential of this sector.

Use the #ChooseArtisan hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to contribute to the campaign’s Social Wall. Follow @AllianceArtisan on social media, and continue spreading the word about the value of artisan enterprise worldwide! 

#ChooseArtisan: The Global Campaign for Artisan Enterprise

Natalie Deuschle

The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise's first objective is to elevate the importance of the artisan sector. Above all, this means proving to the world the artisan sector matters.

The artisan sector matters to weavers in Cusco, Peru; it matters to felt workers in Kyrgyzstan; it matters to woodworkers in New York City; it matters to their families and to their communities. The artisan sector is the second largest employer in the developing world, worth over $32 billion every year. It creates jobs and sustains livelihoods, especially for women. This diverse economy also preserves cultural traditions and ancient techniques. Still, the sector is fragmented and misunderstood. 

Artisan enterprise cannot only matter to artisans and supporters; it needs to matter to policymakers, development professionals, impact investors, consumers, you, and me.

The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise launched the Global Campaign for Artisan Enterprise at the U.S. Department of State in September 2015 to spread awareness about the value of the artisan sector. The global movement begins with the #ChooseArtisan Thunderclap - a social media campaign coalescing voices around the world and sharing why they choose to use their purchasing power for good. On November 6, 2015, over 500 unique messages will be shared with more than 1.5 million people on social media and compiled on the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise #ChooseArtisan Social Wall.

Leading to the Thunderclap launch, the Alliance is sharing messages to educate audiences about the magnitude of the artisan economy, connect individuals with the artisans who fuel the industry, show the rich diversity of artisan tradition, share how leading organizations support artisan businesses, and inspire new voices to join the movement.

These messages will begin to educate global citizens, policymakers, and business leaders about the impact and diversity of artisan enterprise. Speaking together, we can shine a bright light on the sector to drive awareness and enact change. Loud voices standing with the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise include Chef Jose Andres and Acumen founder Jacqueline Novogratz. They also include individual artisans, their families, and their friends. 

Join the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise community today; sign up for the Thunderclap and unite your voice with hundreds of others who understand the artisan sector matters. Then, watch the movement unfold on the #ChooseArtisan Social WallTogether, we can speak louder than a single voice can speak alone. 

Innovations Workshop: Technical Tools and Knowledge Sharing

Natalie Deuschle

When accepted to the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, members acknowledge that they are joining a community that shares best practices and collaborates to enhance the power and potential of the artisan sector in a way that no one person or organization can alone.  In this spirit, following the launch of the Global Campaign for Artisan Enterprise, Alliance members and multimedia competition finalists gathered on Friday September 11th at the Aspen Institute for a technical day of workshops and knowledge sharing.

The first workshop of the day,  The Artisan Advancement Project: Ethical Compliance Assessment Pilot with Nest, west elm and ALLPA, was led by Chris van Bergen of Nest, Jennifer Gootmanof west elm and Luis Heller of ALLPA.  Nest works alongside artisan partners to provide needs assessments and other capacity building services to build sustainable artisan businesses. Although Nest is not involved in any retail transactions, it sees business as a driver of change. The nonprofit has partnered with west elm and ALLPA to develop an ethical compliance assessment with hopes of scaling artisan production in a sustainable and conscious way.

From this workshop, we heard that long-term relationships, sustainability and consistency are vital in collaboration between artisan enterprises and larger retail corporations.  For example, traditional compliance protocol is usually seen in a strict black and white way, but through this pilot project, the workshop leaders learned that remediation strategies cannot be pass/fail but rather need to embody a unified way of improving the current practice and moving forward together. Their advice to artisan businesses working with larger companies is to make the relationship a dialogue and to not be afraid speak up when things aren’t working out.

The next workshop, Introduction to the Alliance Artisan Value Chain Toolkit, was led by Greta Schettler of the U.S. Department of State, Peggy Clark of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise and Natalie Deuschle also with the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise. The toolkit, which was created using a human-centered design approach, allows artisan businesses to visually analyze their value chain. Once the toolkit was introduced, workshop participants were placed in groups to experiment with using the toolkit on their own.

Participants said that completing the value chain analysis was both fun and educational. One participant said that the toolkit builds awareness of an organization’s value chain as it allows issues to be seen from different angles. Rosine Urujeni of Indego Africa, who also used the toolkit with her colleagues in Rwanda, said that the toolkit is extremely helpful in letting different stakeholders along the value chain better understand the bigger picture and processes of the value chain.

The third workshop of the day, entitled Connecting Artisans to Global Markets through Technical Support and Assurance that All Artisans Benefit: A Collaboration between Coca-Cola’s 5by20 Program and Goodweave International, was led by Nina Smith of GoodWeave and Jackie Duff of The Coca-Cola Company. Goodweave, which has created a certification for “GoodWeave” carpets made without child labor, and Coca-Cola, who sources from artisan businesses as part of their 5by20 initiative, have partnered to create an assessment framework that works for artisan business-corporate relationships.

Goodweave and Coca-Cola shared learnings from their newly established partnership, which included:

  1. Empathy is essential
  2. Top down approach is ineffective
  3. Assessments need to include open-ended questions not pass/fail questions
  4. Neither party can live in fear of one partner dropping out

The final workshop, Innovations in Business Skills Training, was given by Rosine Urujeni of Indego Africa and Despina Papadopoulos of Principled Design. Rosine explained Indego Africa’s full community approach to capacity building and their practice of exposing all employees to every part of the value chain. Next, Despina Papadopoulos shared the artisan toolkit she created. The toolkit contains an outstanding amount of cultural detail for women artisans in Afghanistan. Level 1 and 2 of the toolkit were explained as well as the holistic approach that was used to create both versions.  Despina ended her presentation with a quote that encapsulated the passion and fervor of both the workshop leaders and participants that attended the Innovations Workshop day, “If you want light, you must light a fire.”

The Alliance is lighting a fire by continuing the momentum of the Global Campaign for Artisan Enterprise. Join us by signing up for the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise #ChooseArtisan Thunderclap, a social media campaign to share the value of artisan enterprise with 1 million people throughout the world. Learn more and join us today!

If you would like to participate in the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise’s future innovative workshops and events, apply to become a member. To stay up to date on the Alliance’s work, sign up for our newsletter.

The Launch of the Global Campaign for the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise

Natalie Deuschle

In September 2015, the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise and the U.S. Department of State launched the Global Campaign for the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise to promote the value of the global artisan sector. Events spanned three days, including a reception on the rooftop of PricewaterhouseCoopers, a forum at the U.S. Department of State, and an innovations workshop for Alliance members at the Aspen Institute. 

On September 9, 2015, guests from around the world gathered at sunset, overlooking the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial from the PricewaterhouseCoopers rooftop. Ambassador Cathy Russell of the Office of Global Women’s Issues and Alliance Director Peggy Clark opened the reception, introducing the Global Campaign and the extraordinary group of guests. Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of Georgetown’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security, Verna Eggleston of Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Reema Nanavaty of SEWA each shared insightful remarks on value creating innovations for the artisan economy. Meanwhile, attendees from across the United States, India, Rwanda, Laos, Mexico, and others introduced themselves and set the stage for a groundbreaking forum at the U.S. Department of State.

On September 10, the U.S. Department of State opened its doors to artisans and artisan supporters from around the world for Artisan Enterprise: The New Startup Economy.  The event was hosted by the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise and the Office of Global Women’s Issues.

The program consisted of four major panels:

  1. The Economic Might of the Artisan Sector
  2. Country Innovations to Support the Artisan Economy
  3. Corporate Leadership for the Artisan Economy
  4. Bridging the Finance Gap: Innovations for Artisans

During these panels, industry leaders addressed how to best support the artisan economy. Panelists came from social enterprises, large corporations, artisan businesses, and federal bureaus. They encouraged collaboration, creativity, and transparency throughout the value chain. Panelists addressed the roles of technology, intermediaries, and governments.

Each panel was broken up by “spark talks,” brief 5-minute discussions supporting artisan enterprise and the creative economy:

  1. “Why Does the Creative Economy Matter?” by Franklin Leonard, The Black List
  2. “Artisan Entrepreneurs as Peacemakers,” by Joy Ndungutse, Gahaya Links
  3. “Tapping the Creative Economy as an Economic Growth Strategy,” by Marcelo Cabrol, IDB
  4. “From Design to the Hands of the Consumer,” by Judy Achar, Mitz Enterprise
  5. “Catalyzing Systemic Change: Building Inclusive Value Chains,” by Shalini Mehan, UNHCR

The Alliance was honored to welcome Secretary of State John Kerry as the event’s keynote speaker. He addressed the economy, the Sustainable Development Goals, and artisans:  

“If the creative economy, globally, were a country, it would already be equal to the fourth-largest economy in the world with the fourth-largest workforce and rank ninth in the value of exports,” and “The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise reflects exactly the kind of innovative thinking that we need to engage in if we’re going to expand this playing field as rapidly as we need to if we’re going to be able to implement our very ambitious post-2015 development goals and agenda.”

Watch Secretary Kerry’s complete address here.

Outside the auditorium, guests were invited to an exhibition hall to examine woven rugs from Guatemala, traditional beading from South Sudan, hand-printed textiles from Laos, videos of artisans at work, and more. Fifteen exhibits represented finalists of the Artisan Enterprise Multimedia Competition, a global call for artisans and artisan supporters to submit creative multimedia content capturing the value of the $34 billion artisan economy. Throughout the day, event attendees and supporters around the world voted online for their favorite multimedia exhibit to receive the People’s Choice Award.

Finally, Ambassador Russell and Peggy Clark honored the 2015 Alliance for Artisan Enterprise Artisan Hero and multimedia competition winners. Joy Ndungutse and Janet Nkubana, co-founders of Gahaya Links, received the prestigious Artisan Hero Award for their promotion of peace and women’s economic development in post-genocide Rwanda. Shivani Dhar of India was the multimedia competition’s People’s Choice Award winner. Tim Kerns of Sasa Designs by the Deaf was honored as the competition’s Grand Prize Winner. His video chronicling the story of deaf artisans in Kenya demonstrated the power and potential of artisan enterprise. Review all the multimedia finalists’ content here!

The launch of the Global Campaign for Artisan Enterprise was an extraordinary success. Secretary Kerry historically affirmed the economic value of the artisan sector. Guests asked questions, networked, and thought broadly about collaborative approaches to artisan enterprise. Panelists addressed innovative ways to advance artisan enterprise worldwide.

The Alliance invites artisans, supporters, innovators, and policymakers to continue the momentum of the Global Campaign for Artisan Enterprise. Together, we can raise awareness and further the power and potential of the global artisan sector. Start by joining the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise #ChooseArtisan Thunderclap, a social media campaign to share the value of artisan enterprise with 1 million people throughout the world. Learn more and sign up today!

See the full program agenda for the Global Campaign for the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise here, and learn more about our panelists and speakers here. Apply for Alliance membership, sign up for our newsletter, or email to get involved!