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 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. Thus our Artisan Market Access Program, called Handmade by Friendship Bridge.
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.
Friendship Bridge's Artisan Market Access Program
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.
Friendship Bridge’s Artisan Market Access Program provides artists and artisans with trainings designed to ready them to access new markets – in particular, the global market. Trainings focus on topics such as quality of raw materials, buyer expectations, and tastes and preferences of the North American market. Clients are also trained about product pricing to ensure they receive a fair wage for their work.
The long-term goal of the program is to empower artisan clients to design and create products marketable for export, and to connect them with secure and consistent export opportunities. We want to advance clients along our Client Continuum by providing them the right tools and services they need to grow, whatever their level of development.
Friendship Bridge has created an online store that features some of these artists’ and artisans’ products, including handbags, scarves, jewelry, and home goods. Head to our tipica market, Handmade by Friendship Bridge, to see these beautiful items and learn more about the artisans and artists in this program. Your purchase empowers artisans to create better futures for themselves, their children, and their communities.