Elena has been a client with Friendship Bridge for 10 years. She is a Leader in Friendship Bridge’s Client Continuum and in the Advanced level of the Artisan Market Access Program. She has started to export her products to the US, and shares “Friendship Bridge is the only organization that gives us this chance to develop as business owners and women without requiring anything of us in return.”
Twenty three Friendship Bridge clients, such as Elena showcased their beautiful products on Wednesday, July 11 at the Ütz’Ipetïk Trunk Show hosted by Friendship Bridge in our central office in Panajachel, Guatemala. The show attracted 13 wholesale and retail companies. Nearly $2,000 (Q14,057) in products were sold during the event, with a possibility of another $1,352 (Q10,000) in orders. The event attracted several national and local press, including an article published in the country’s largest newspaper, Prensa Libre.
Friendship Bridge currently serves over 4,000 artist and artisan clients. Through surveys and client research, many of these women have expressed the need to access new markets to sell their products and bolster their income. However, many of these artisans are isolated by language and geography, and many lack the business skills to thrive in the modern marketplace.
Started in 2015, Friendship Bridge’s Artisan Market Access Program provides our artist and artisan clients with trainings designed to ready them to access new markets –local, national, and international. Trainings focus on topics such as quality of raw materials, buyer expectations, and trends and preferences of the North American market. Clients are also trained about product pricing to ensure they receive a fair wage for their work.
Approximately 40 clients participate in the Artisan Market Access trainings each year as part of our Microcredit Plus program. Loan officers identify potential clients who have been segmented into Entrepreneur or Leader categories according to Friendship Bridge’s Client Continuum strategy. Intermediate, Advanced and Post-advanced clients of the Artisan Market Access program had the opportunity to display their items at Wednesday’s show. This event was organized as part of the Artisan Market Access training. We hope to make this an annual opportunity for clients who are eligible to participate in the annual trainings.