Handmade by Friendship Bridge® is a Microcredit Plus program of Friendship Bridge. It is also the name of our online store. Handmade by Friendship Bridge® supports the artisan clients of Friendship Bridge with acquiring the skills, education, learning experiences, support, and technical assistance they need to reach their potential and independently sell their handmade products in local, national, and international markets.
Artisans and artists are rarely recognized as drivers of economic activity, but the artisan economy is the second-largest income opportunity in developing countries, after agriculture. Globally, the artisan economy is an estimated $32 billion/year industry. Beyond driving economic activity, the artisan sector preserves culturally-rooted skills and traditions passed on through generations and centuries. Investing in artists and artisans means investing in a form of economic development that has a deep meaning rooted in the uniqueness of people and their cultures. When the artisan sector is harnessed to its full potential, it can create jobs, increase incomes, and foster sustainable community growth.
Challenges for Artisans
Most artisan enterprises lack appropriate financing to grow their businesses and have few opportunities to access new markets. Artisans can be limited by seasonal sales and unpredictable cash flows, which makes it difficult to plan for their futures and invest in their businesses. With new market demand for responsibly made products, artisans need ways to tap into the growing global market for their goods. 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.