A Look Back at February 2024

From the success of entrepreneurs debuting at the NY NOW Winter Show to empowering youth through craft in Burkina Faso, we hope you enjoy learning about our successes from February.

Empowering Entrepreneurs: A Journey to NY NOW Winter Show 2024

Six entrepreneurs from Lesotho, Ethiopia, and Uganda sponsored by the Trade Facilitation Office Canada (TFO Canada) exhibited at the NY NOW Winter Show for the very first time from February 4-7, 2024! By the end of the show, the entrepreneurs connected with over 70 potential buyers and secured 22 orders!

The road to the show was long, filled with hours of training and preparation, but it was all worth it in the end. Throughout the show, the 6 entrepreneurs were visited by numerous potential buyers, expanding their networks in the US. Simultaneously, they gained hands on experience on how to navigate and successfully export to the US Market.

Each entrepreneur had their own space to showcase their products in the co-located corner booth. Products included baskets from Tooro Gallery, contemporary clothing from Ze’el Clothes, unique pencils from Pasa Productions, home décor from MM Bedding & Curtaining, and finally handmade bags from MERON Addis Ababa and ABKA Leather Products.

After returning home from New York City, each entrepreneur is now dedicating time to follow up with all potential buyers and connections they established during the show. Hosaeana from Ze’el Clothing shared her experience participating in the programs coaching sessions, all the way through to exhibiting at NY NOW:

“I am grateful for the support received during the coaching sessions, the preparation that went into the NY NOW Show, and the positive experience gained from participating in the event. I look forward to leveraging these learnings in future endeavors and continuing to grow professionally.”

Pictured: 4 SMEs together with a buyer at their booth (top right), Hosaeana from Ze’el Clothes, Ethiopia, speaking with a potential buyer (bottom left), Libuseng from Pasa Productions in Lesotho at her booth (bottom center), Anne from Tooro Gallery, Uganda, in her booth with a buyer (bottom right).

Uplifting Youth Through Inspiration and Hands-On Experience in Burkina Faso

Mastering your craft through hands-on experience is the cornerstone of success. In Burkina Faso, 40-youth participating in the Resilience Through Craft project have started developing products under the guidance of master artisans.

These designs were created by designer Marie Weissberg, in collaboration with the master artisans from GAFREH in Bobo-Dioulasso and the Centre d’Animation Féminin of the Association Kogl-Taaba (CAF) in Koudougou.

In both Bobo-Dioulasso and Koudougou, the youth are immersing themselves in the traditional techniques of crafting handbags, scarves, and home décor products. From deciphering product specifications to mastering techniques like cutting straight lines, sewing, and assembling, they are gaining invaluable expertise. Learning directly from experienced artisans not only sharpens their skills but also ignites their passion, drawing inspiration from the dedication of those who have made this craft their livelihood. Stay tuned to see the final designs and products next month!

One youth, Glawdis from Koudougou, shared:

“This production activity has enabled me to sew other models of bags in addition to what I had learned during the training.”

Pictured: Youth from CAF preparing product samples that were brought to the SICOT fair (top left), youth at GAFREH learning how to sew (bottom left), youth learning how to properly cut fabric at GAFREH (bottom center), youth being mentored by a master artisan at GAFREH (bottom right)

Insights on Circular Economy Strategies and Sustainability with Tamayo

On February 1st, 2024, Artisan Business Lab hosted the webinar Adopting Circular Economy Strategies in the Handmade Craft Sector with Morin George-Douglas of Tamayo.

During her webinar, Morin emphasized the importance of sustainability in today’s ever-changing climate, presenting various approaches to ensure businesses remain environmentally conscious.

“The circular economy is an innovative economic model,” Morin explained, “focused on prolonging the lifespan of products and materials, either indefinitely or for as long as possible.” This involves strategies such as reusing, repairing, recycling, and renting products when they reach the end of their lifecycle.

Morin illustrated the concept with practical examples, such as repurposing a knitted sweater by disassembling it and knitting it into a new garment with a different pattern. Another example is to utilize scrap materials to create complimentary products to your designs such as coin purses or simple gift bags.

Pictured: Diagram from Morin George-Douglas’s presentation

Unlock Your Potential by Joining the 2024 eMarket Readiness Program

Join our exclusive, interactive program tailored specifically for the handmade sector! The 2024 eMarket Readiness Program (eMRP) opens your eyes to everything that it takes to grow your business!

Achieve success in the international market and connect with fellow entrepreneurs worldwide, all from the comfort of your own home!

After attending the 5 days of presentations with industry experts and optional small group coaching sessions, you will walk away with a 6-month business plan, created by you, for you. After the 2023 eMRP, Abbie Kline of Kandahar Treasure shared her goals as a result of the program:

“I would say the top 6-month goal is redefining our ideal consumer and target markets and solidifying our production process and product catalog for buyers.”

When asked about the most beneficial aspect of the eMRP, she added:

“This is tricky! It was all supremely helpful. The Costing & Pricing session was especially helpful, as was the US Market Overview & Sales Channels Strategy. I also really valued the buyer panel.”

Curious about what more this program entails? Explore further details about our flagship online training, scheduled for September 9-13, 2024 HERE.

What’s Coming in March?

-We are launching a new 3-year project in the municipality of Sitala, Chiapas, Mexico! More thrilling updates are coming your way.

-Stay tuned to learn more about the Youth Forum being held in San Juan Cancuc, Mexico as part of our Building Spaces for Dialogue Project

-Product development in Burkina Faso will come to an end. Are you excited to see the final products?

Pictured: 2 entrepreneurs from TFO Canada with the Ambassador of Lesotho at the NY NOW Show.