A Look Back at October 2023

We hope you enjoy our stories from last month where we share experiences of transformative trainings and new opportunities!

A Trip to Mexico: Bridging the Gap Between the US and Mexico

Much of ATA’s work is done online, including most of the interactions between our US and Mexico teams. However, online collaboration does not carry the richness of communication that in-person collaboration does. To enhance the effectiveness of our work, last month ATA’s Director, Maud Obe, and Program Associate, Hannah Klein, traveled to Mexico.

Starting in Mérida, Yucatán, then continuing to San Cristóbal, Chiapas, and ending the journey in Mexico City, they met with the local ATA staff, visited an artisan community, met with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and observed stores where ATA products are showcased and sold.

Throughout the weeklong trip, Maud and Hannah worked closely with our Chiapas and Yucatán teams, evaluating where we are today and where we want to be in the future. We conducted workshops in both offices to improve efficiency and ensure the delivery of the highest quality training for our beneficiaries. Hannah visited the artisan group Mariposas del Sur in Tixmehuac, Yucatán to meet the artisans and directly learn about the evolution of their business since joining our Manos Vivas 2.0 project. The word “mariposas” in Spanish means “butterflies,” as one artisan, Ingrid, told Hannah:

“We chose the butterfly [for our name] because, like a butterfly, we started as a little caterpillar and now we are growing and spreading our wings.”

Our final stop was Mexico City where ATA Mexico Director Maria-Eugenia Pineda, Maud and Hannah visited the office of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to discuss our new monitoring and evaluation system and future project opportunities. Stay tuned to learn more!

Thank you to the Mexico teams for hosting us and to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for giving us such a warm welcome. Most of all, thank you to our fellow staff and artisans who openly shared their thoughts and experiences with us.

Pictured: Program Associate Hannah Klein with members of the group Mariposas del Sur in Tixmehuac, Yucatán (top left), strategic planning meeting with ATA Mexico team in San Cristóbal, Chiapas (bottom left), artisans from Mariposas del Sur working on a costing exercise (bottom center), meeting with members of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Mexico City (bottom right).

Entrepreneurship Training for Youth in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso

Last month, collaborating with the artisan enterprise GAFREH, we organized and facilitated entrepreneurship training for 16 youth in Bobo-Dioulasso as part of the “Resilience Through Craft” project in Burkina Faso.

The goal of this workshop was to expose these young people to entrepreneurship and artisan businesses through hands-on activities.

In September, the same training was held for the youth participating in the program in Koudougou. In both cases, the objective was to improve their confidence, leadership, and entrepreneurship skills, and help them improve their understanding of how to run an artisan business, work in teams, and advocate for themselves.

Burkina Faso faces an increasing threat of violent extremism, putting youth at risk. Our project aims to equip youth participants with the necessary tools to advocate for themselves and communicate with government officials to build resilient communities. The project’s vision shines through the words of participant Boboirilou Bailou (pictured above):

“After this training, I wish to have my own business to employ people to assist them and also to enable me to be independent.”

Stay tuned for more activities carried out by this project!

Resilience Through Craft is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and in partnership with Creative Associates International (Creative) and their partner, Lutheran World Relief (LWR).

Pictured: Boboirilou Bailou’s mood board (top right), Youth setting up a product display (bottom left), Christelle, a youth participant, practicing taking product photos (bottom center), Madame Ouedraogo helping a group during a business simulation activity (bottom right).

SOCAP23 – An Event Focusing on Social Impact and Community

Representatives from ATA’s export company partners, Dany Hernandez of Dos Tierras and Carlos Ponce de Leon of Ethics Food, had the honor of attending the SOCAP23 event in San Fransisco, California last month! This event gave participants an opportunity to network and foster new relationships between social entrepreneurs and social impact investors.

The theme of SOCAP23 was Facing Urgency: Impact at the Speed of Trust. Its goal was to bring actors within the social impact community together to discuss how to cooperate better to help solve the world’s most pressing humanitarian problems. The event hosted provided a forum for networking, and opportunities for entrepreneurs to pitch their businesses to the audience and investors. Dany and Carlos did just that in hopes to continue to grow their network.

After the event, Dany told us: “We had an incredible time at SOCAP 2023! We connected with like-minded social entrepreneurs from all over the world and had the opportunity to attend many sessions that showed us that we are not alone in our purpose to change the future of the artisan communities we collaborate with and SOCAP23 gave

us a greater insight into how to better serve this purpose for the artisans.”

Carlos also shared: “It was very motivating to have the opportunity to share our project with other entrepreneurs, investors, and organizations from whom we received very good feedback on our work.”

We are honored that Dos Tierras and Ethics Foods were able to attend as part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s cohort and would like to thank the foundation for allowing them to attend.

Pictured: Tamula and Dos Tierras at SOCAP in San Fransisco after their presentation

A Walk-Through High Point Market

It is important to walk a tradeshow before exhibiting at one. As ATA is hoping to participate in the High Point Market in the coming years, Maud visited the show

in North Carolina on October 14th to plan our participation, meet old friends and make new ones. Maud met with Viola Labi from Woven Worldwide, a

2023 Canvas Home Small Grant winner, who was exhibiting in the new section called Shoppe High Point.

This was the first time Shoppe Object had a presence at this show and brought over 100 exhibitors. Maud also met with Ridvan Tatargil, founder of Eastern Accents, to discuss the show and catch up on future plans for work with ATA.

After walking the show, Maud shared:

“High Point Market is an exciting, thrilling, must-attend event for anyone interested in exporting to the US market. The inclusion of Shoppe Object at this market further emphasizes the appeal for artisan businesses to participate. Aid to Artisans is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to include this market in its portfolio.”

Pictured: Maud and Viola Labi of Woven Worldwide (top right), Maud and Alison from Powered by People (bottom left), Shoppe Object + High Point sign at High Point Market (bottom center), Woven Worldwide booth at Shoppe Object in High Point Market (bottom right).

What’s to Come in November

-We are excited to share updates about the youth activities in Burkina Faso

-The mid-term evaluation of our Manos Vivas 2 project will begin, giving us data on how our work is affecting the lives of the artisans

-Artisan Business Lab hosted a webinar with Lee Roebeck on “How to Clear the Blocks to Your Abundance.” Stay tuned to learn more!

Pictured: Youth from Bobo-Dioulasso working on a business activity during the entrepreneurship training