Last spring ATA implemented an assessment of the craft sector in Djibouti as part of the Projet de Promotion de l’Emploi des jeunes et de l’Artisanat (PROPEJA), Job Promotion for Youth in Crafts project. Funded by the World Bank and the Japanese Government, through the Agence Djiboutienne de Development Social, PROPEJA aims to provide access to practical skills, training and finance for over 3000 youth and women living in poor communities located in Djibouti-ville, Arta, Tadjourah, and Ali Sabieh.

ATA’s objective is to provide income-generation opportunities. At least 1000 beneficiaries will be able to access funds to start micro-projects through a competitive process based on a business plan. Additionally 800 beneficiaries, mainly women, will receive direct or indirect training and financial assistance in the form of grants to improve their opportunities of income-generating activities for their crafts.

The nomadic population of Djibouti, a small country located south of the Red Sea has significant skills in basketry and beading, however, it’s a desperately poor country where artisans  have not yet received any development support to upgrade their skills . During the assessment, ATA designer Frederic Alcantara and Director of Program Management and Development Monika Steinberg traveled to remote communities of Balbala, Damerjog, Arta, Ali Sabieh, and Tadjourah. “Some of the locations are extremely remote over almost impassable roads but we were rewarded with great finds in terms of artisan skill and creativity. Some of the basketry is almost ready for the international market as it is, particularly in Tadjourah but other communities need to start from scratch and ATA will provide them with new design, and a solid costing and pricing strategy” says Monika Steinberger.

“Despite these obstacles, we are confident that Djibouti artisans will become a significant factor in the market. In the upcoming implementation of the project, we will focus on creating local market opportunities, such as the thousands of military personnel stationed in country” says Steinberger. The first steps toward exporting craft made in Djibouti will be to other African countries, before venturing to international markets such as New York. Aid to Artisans is ready to implement a capacity building and product development work plan that will help artisans develop targeted new product designs and product collection in the process of making Djiboutians proud of their culture, self-reliant, benefit from sales and lead better lives.