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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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Meet the Makers

MEET THE MAKERS

The twelve artisan businesses participating in the TEDWomen Global Showcase represent the amazing diversity, commitment, and impact of the entire Alliance for Artisan Enterprise communityTogether, 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. Below, explore their stories, crafts and cultures.

GAHAYA LINKS | RWANDA

"Weaving lasting peace."

Gahaya Links is a Rwandan handicraft company dedicated to women's economic empowerment through enterprise design. The training facility and marketplace was created by two sisters in post-genocide Rwanda to economically empower Rwandan women. Gahaya Links has spent over 20 years working in Rwanda, employing more than 4,000 women in 52 savings cooperatives. 

Heshima kenya | Kenya

"Every scarf tells a story. This is ours."

Heshima Kenya is the 1st organization in Kenya devoted to protecting unaccompanied and separated refugee women and girls. The Maisha Collective is a peer-driven initiative of Heshima Kenya that fosters leadership and business management skills for refugee women in Kenya through the design and production of hand-dyed scarves and textiles using traditional African dyeing techniques. Since 2008, the organization has served more than 1,600 refugee women. Over 100 artisans have been trained through the Maisha Collective. 

ROOTS OF SOUTH SUDAN | SOUTH SUDAN

"Women crafting a new nation. Together."

ROOTS of South Sudan was founded in 2009 to empower South Sudanese women and youth through the preservation of traditional Sudanese arts and crafts. ROOTS of South Sudan provides members with job skills, literacy and math training, and a safe environment for mothers and their children to work and learn. More than 60 women participate in the ROOTS Project Center, representing 17 tribes and supporting over 360 family members. 

FIBRE TIBET | TIBET & NEPAL

"High fashion; higher meaning."

Fibre Tibet is a collection of textiles made from cashmere, wool, cotton and silk featuring the finest fibers and artisans from Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, and India. Designs integrate traditional techniques including hand-spinning and weaving, while generating positive social, environmental, and economic impact. With more 20 years' experience working with Tibetan nomads, the organization now supports over 350 artisans and managers. 

KANDAHAR TREASURE | AFGHANISTAN

"Afghan business empowering women."

Kandahar Treasure is reviving rare and unique embroidery traditions and empowering women artisans of Kandahar. Kandahar Treasure supports the improvement of women's social and economic life in Afghanistan. Since 2003, the organization has employed more than 400 women artisans and has run 3 social responsibility programs.

TURQUOISE MOUNTAIN | afghanistan

"Artists transforming Afghanistan." 

Turquoise Mountain is regenerating historic areas, reviving traditional Afghan arts and architecture, and creating jobs, skills, and a renewed sense of national pride for Afghan men and women. Turquoise Mountain is regenerating the old city of Kabul, and spurring the sustainable development of the Afghan crafts industry. The organization's crafts initiative provides 112 women with stable income, and supports 5 unique women-owned businesses. 

CENTER FOR TRADITIONAL TEXTILES OF CUSCO | PERU

"By weavers, for weavers."

The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco promotes the empowerment of local weavers through the sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Through workshops, opportunities, and the promotion of their textile art, the Center enables weavers to maintain their identities and their textile traditions while improving their quality of life. The Center has spent more than 20 years promoting traditional textiles arts, now employing over 500 weavers.   

MANOS DEL URUGUAY | URUGUAY

"Natural Uruguay."

Manos del Uruguay provides jobs for craftswomen living in rural areas of Uruguay. Manos defends and promotes Uruguayan identity, where culture and tradition are mixed in an exchange reflected in their natural yarns and knit products. For more than 45 years, Manos has represented 250 indigenous craftswomen representing 19 localities. 

MERCADO GLOBAL | GUATEMALA

"Partnership, authenticity, respect."

Mercado Global provides income-earning opportunities to indigenous women in Guatemala's highlands. Mercado Global teaches these women a trade, helps them launch sustainable businesses of their own, and connects them to global markets. The organization supports more than 400 rural Guatemalan women; 84% of whom now hold a leadership position. 

PAULA MENDOZA | COLOMBIA

"Bold, rich, raw, and timeless."

Paula Mendoza's jewelry exemplifies the richness of Colombian gold and the power of each emerald's green. Ten years ago, studying with local artisans across South America and experimenting with different stones and metals, Paula fully submerged herself into the world of jewelry. Her jewelry supports 29 Colombian craftswomen, and is sold in partnership with 36 retailers around the world. 

YAWANAWA HANDICRAFTS INITIATIVE | BRAZIL

"Leveraging opportunities for Amazonian indigenous youth and women."

Women's artisan cooperatives create skills for new generations and put a value on traditional cultural practices. The Yawanawa Handicrafts Initiative leverages the intrinsic relationship that the Yawanawa forest community in the amazon has with their environment, where the wellbeing of community is the priority. In partnership with Forest Trends's Communities Initiative, over 175 women participate in handicraft business development, supporting 520 indigenous children. 

TRIA ETC | GREECE

"Embracing artisanal tradition."

TRIA ETC is a home for preserving and promoting Greek artisanship and collaborating with talented artisans and artistic minds in Greece. TRIA ETC features exceptional local artisan skills and tells fascinating stories about Greece's culture, traditions, and people. The organization has produced 11 unique collections in partnership with 7 Grecian artisan groups.