Each day around the world groups of women come together to make simple crafts in hopes of selling them to earn some extra money for their families. This money is used for food, healthcare, and education, helping to break the cycle of generational poverty.
But, without skills or business training, they often lack the structure and/or the product design to gain the attention of the mainstream fair trade movement and local markets are limited.
The fair trade movement has largely become a simple market transaction--cash for goods received--while in reality, poverty alleviation requires a holistic approach of access to credit, skills, business, and other life skills. Additionally, the market is saturated with similar products from larger, organized groups from the typical set of countries.
We believe in going beyond fair trade to provide a holistic support package that enables vulnerable women to start and expand a cooperative and/or small individual businesses to generate income for themselves and their families while also learning other valuable life skills.
Our support depends on the needs of each individual women’s group, and we work across the value chain--from setting up a member-led cooperative to designing, making, marketing, and distributing demand-driven products.
In doing so, we provide select artisan groups access to our Artisans Thrive Training Program. Through such, we lead a 3-month training course with the women to establish a cooperative to generate income and serve as a place for learning and support.
Working together, the cooperative designs and launches a fashion-forward, unique product. It's important the artisans themselves drive the creation of this product, given local resources and skills, while also learning how to gauge the market for the product.
The training not only teaches the women the skills to make the product but also provides them with training in entrepreneurship and business management including quality control, budgeting, savings, marketing, and customer service.
Finally, unlike many other similar programs, our training also provides life skills including in leadership, education, and health. This approach addresses the complex facets of poverty. The program is supplemented with hands-on application sessions for all participants and core meetings with the cooperative’s elected leadership, chosen by and among the women, who become the champions of the program.
Following the program, we work closely with the artisan group, providing a market in which they can sell their products, and helping them to establish other retail and wholesale outlets.
The women are paid upfront for products made, providing immediate income. This is often a 200-300% increase in their normal daily wage! Additionally, with each product sold, a percentage of the sales price is set aside to pay back the training costs (depends on the partner). This is mechanism creates a way to sustain the program and train other organizations moving forward.
Long-term, we seek to also set aside still another additional portion into a savings and loan fund for the women. The women match this amount with their own group savings, generated from the money they’ve earned from making the products. The combined amount is then lent among themselves for growing and establishing the artisan business or other businesses as they see fit.
If you are working with a group of women that would benefit from this type of assistance and want to see how our training program is different or get a copy of our course syllabus, contact us today for more information.
If you are interested in learning more about our Artisans Thrive Training Program and how you can invest in accelerating artisans in a sustainable way, please contact us today.
Are you an local artisan (jewelry maker, seamstress, designer, etc.) looking to use your skills to train others, either as a volunteer or in a paid position?
If so, please join our artisan roster to be considered for future opportunities.