In mid-June of 2013, the ATA canvas™ Small Grants Committee met to review the numerous applications received. After careful deliberation, the committee awarded grants to six artisan groups/craft producers from Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, Zambia, and Macedonia.

The awardees of the canvas™ Small Grants winners for 2013 are:

The women of Alhaya Erada for Sustainable Development

Alhaya Erada for Sustainable Development (Egypt)

Alhaya Erada for Sustainable Development (ASED) was established in 2009 to implement the USAID/Aid to Artisans funded project “Handmade in Egypt.” After the project ended in 2012, the organization continued to sustain the services delivered to artisans and to build on the activities and the link established locally and internationally. ASED operates on a national level and has widened the scope of its activity to work in raising the awareness and practice of social and economic rights of women artisans, to complement the economic development services to a full-fledged raising awareness cycle. Alhaya Erada fields of work are:  training & capacity building, technical support to artisans and artisans organizations; working with NGOs and MFIs, providing access to credits, organize sales and marketing activities for the artisans, and exchange of expertise locally and internationally. AESD’s main beneficiaries are women in marginalized and poor regions of the country, single mothers, young men and women in the most unprivileged areas of Egypt. 

How has the grant helped them?

The grant enabled at least 45 artisans to participate in a one day sales event; most of the artisans sold some of their products; very few orders were placed by some buyers. The event being a local limited public targeting did not generate any new business or partnerships. The grant also helped us re-connect with our artisans that we served before, uplift the burden of some of the stocks off producers, promote Alhaya Erada’s activities in front of other donors, and increase sales to the producers

Altyn Kol Naryn artisans at their shopAltyn Kol (Kyrgyzstan)

Altyn Kol was originally organized by a collection of Kyrgyz women in the Kochkor area with the support of Helvetas, for the purpose of marketing and selling of traditional felt handicrafts in 1996. In 1997, it held its first sales exhibition and began exporting this important component of Kyrgyz culture all over the world. By 1998, Altyn Kol was registered as an NGO with the mission of providing income to the local felt artisans of the Kochkor Region and thus carrying on Kyrgyz culture and traditions for generations to come. Since 2001, Altyn Kol has participated in several handicraft exhibitions in Switzerland and the US, including the Santa Fe Folk Art Market and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Today, it support approximately 40 local artisans by providing training, sales, and marketing services.

Altyn Kol Naryn artisans at their shopHow has the grant helped them?

Using the funds from the grant, Altyn Kol purchased display shelves and tables for their very first handicraft museum. By opening a handicraft museum, they can keep past products and preserve the history of the embroidery, symbols, and designs. In turn would help innovate new ideas on how to make new items and offer their clients old designs to use on modern products. The museum will become a way of advertising the organization. Altyn Kol sees the museum as an opportunity for younger generations to learn handicraft technologies.

The Kampala Fair teamKampala Fair (Uganda)

Kampala Fair was founded in 2007 with the purpose of providing real jobs that would give people decent working conditions, skills, a sense of pride in their work, and the ability to give themselves and their families a secure future. Founder and Creative Director, Mette Islandi wanted to build on the rich African culture of colorful textile designs. After three years of training, capacity building, and informal trading, Kampala Fair registered as a company in 2012. With a highly skilled group of artisans making unique home decor pieces, apparel, and accessories, Kampala Fair strives to build a sustainable business that provides skills development and promotes a positive image of African culture to an international audience.

The women of Kampala Fair work together on their new overlock machine.

How has the grant helped them?

The grant enabled Kampala Fair to increase sales, generate additional business, increase the artisans’ income, employ more artisans, improve production, buy new equipment, become more efficient, and improve working conditions. They purchased two sewing machines and an overlock machine, which enabled them to take on two more tailors and increase our production capacity. Their tailors have been able to work more efficiently, resulting in an increase of income.

Their increased productivity has resulted in an increase of sales through recruitment of sales reps in other parts of the city, averaging $1,600/month in sales in the first few months. In addition, they’ve opened a shop in Kampala, marking a huge step in them in terms of obligation to meet increased overhead. They also are about to host a business studies student. Being able to provide their staff with high quality equipment has ensued their existing and new staff can continue make garments of the highest quality, and that they respect our employees and their skills as artisans, and enabled them to provide employment to two more women, beneficial in itself to them and their families, and in turn enabling us to pursue more sales avenues and therefore enhance the security and sustainability of the business.

The Kampala Fair teamKork Fiber Art (Kyrgyzstan)

Kork Fiber Art was incorporated in 1996 to provide Kyrgyz people living in rural areas with a place to sell their traditional-based handmade wares. Its goal is to promote the commerce of traditional Kyrgyz handmade products. The artisans make the handicrafts out of natural fibers, specifically out of wool and silk. Kork Fiber Art has been featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2011 in connection with the Peace Corps.

The women of Kork Fiber Art create colorful woolen soap.

How has the grant helped them?

With the grant, Kork Fiber Art have increased sales, generated additional business, increased the artisans’ income, and employed more artisans. They have been able to improve production and buy new equipment to make woolen soap. They now have the technology and know-how to make felted soaps we have been able to create jobs. Being able to produce soaps has generate additional business because it has given them a new product to sell.

The women of Malambo Grassroots at workMalambo Grassroots (Zambia)

In response to severe drought 21 years ago, Malambo Grassroots started their first craft group to alleviate both the depression and the poverty of the people in the rural area of Monze, Zambia. Since then they have expanded by creating satellite groups that make different craft items and small scale farming activities, improving the educational infrastructure of the schools that serve our communities, providing scholarships for the children of the communities, and bringing the older generations forward with their children to counteract alienation as communities modernize and traditions breakdown.

malambo8 with caption

How has the grant helped them?

With the grant, Malambo Grassroots held a workshop to help the Tusole Women’s group of Siavonga improve their craft skills, focusing on papier-mâché pot-making and decorating, and decorative embroidery. They invited village instructors from the Monze region to improve their understanding on raising the quality of rug-hooking skills and the Zambian papier-mâché.

By bringing in craft experts, the various group members learnt both improved skills as well as marketing strategies, and the importance of quality standards. By combining workshops in product design, technical assistance, marketing, business management skills, participants from each group went home with new products, improved skills, and shared marketing strategies. They were able to address issues that they were facing.

Prior to receiving the grant, they only 5 % of their products and had few sales when they participated in a national exhibition in November. After this workshop, they’ve sold 60% of their products.

As a long-term goal, they plan on approaching the District Commissioner with samples of products to have craft market area built. The groups are very enthusiastic because Siavonga is a major tourist destination but there is no craft market.

A MATA artisan works on a felt craftMacedonian Artisan Trade Association (Macedonia)

The Macedonian Artisan Trade Association (MATA) is a non-profit organization established by the members of the local staff of Aid to Artisans in Macedonia in 2005. MATA was formed in response to request by craft micro-entrepreneurs for continued assistance in the strategic areas of capacity-building and advocacy as they try to overcome structural constraints in the craft sector in Macedonia.

How has the grant helped them?

MATA brouchure with caption

The Marketing Support Grant has enabled MATA to design and print promotional brochures for Center for Traditional Craft -Skopje Old Bazaar. The grant helped improve the visual identity of the newly established Center for traditional craft in Skopje Old bazaar and directly contributed to better promotion of the artisans’ products and increase sales.