ATA is proud to announce the 2015 Canvas Home™ Small Grants Program awardees. This year, the program sponsored 6 artisan groups from Guatemala, Chile, the West Bank, and Tanzania.
Here are the awardees:
Child’s Cup Full
Child’s Cup Full (CCF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit social enterprise with a mission to leverage the talent and expertise of women artisans in the region to create beautifully handcrafted educational children’s toys and other handmade products. CCF created its first artisan center in 2011 in Zababdeh to train and employ low-income, refugee women artisans to make handmade eco-friendly children’s toys. Their long-term goal is to generate enough funds from sales to build a consortium of artisan centers throughout the West Bank as well as to support grassroots education programs for refugee children.
They decided to use grant money by investing in training artisans for skill building. They employed low income refugee women artisans and provided training to them in their artisan center of Zababdeh, a small village in the northern West Bank. This met with instant success, they were able to sign up for a variety of events in the U.S. to generate business, build their brand, promote products and increase sales. This gave them additional funds required to expand their artisan workforce by allowing them to employ more artisans to meet the demands of their growing orders.
With increased sales and profit, CCF intends to invest the profit buying new sewing machines to enhance production with an aim to create lasting economic opportunities for them as well as their families and communities.
Bahari Deco Crafts
Bahari Deco Crafts (BDC), founded by Mariam Katongo Mohamed is a micro-enterprise founded on the idea of making products that share the rich cultural fabrics and traditions from the Swahili culture, thus creating bridges that help build trade relations with artisans in Tanzania and the U.S.
BDC started operating in July 2011 by using Kanga to make Kitenge skirts, as well as bags and other variety of Tanzanian handicrafts at Fenton Street Market, in Silver Spring, MD. Mariam, who participated in the Market Readiness Program TM in August 2015, currently collaborates with four Tanzanian groups that each specializes in the production of specific products that she is aiming to exhibit at NY NOW™.
She used the grant money to enhance stitching skills that improved artisan’s workmanship and helped them understand design. They now produce multipurpose home decor products tailored to US standard sizes. This asset has resulted in a boost in sales and helped generate extra work and income for the artisans. Furthermore, Mariam reinvested 50% of the sales income to buy flat hand woven cotton raw material to keep the production ongoing and integrating new designs to the traditional Tanzanian cloth. She now has a new brochure highlighting the new and improved craftsmanship and the innovative product line.
Ixbalamk’e Cooperative (IC) is a group of 40 women from an isolated part in the North of Guatemala, who organized themselves in order to revive the millennial Gauze weaving technique, typical of their ethnic group and community. By 1979, 70 Indigenous families from the Keqchi ethnic group who had fled several land displacements, resettlements and persecutions, obtained a piece of land from the government where they now live, weave and cultivate coffee.
After receiving the small grant the looms where sent to be built in a town named, Nahuala in the high lands, in Guatemala. Three foot-looms have recently been completed and are ready to start serving the community. Training is currently underway as it hopes to empower artisans. This will provide a consistent source of income and improve their lives as well as enable them to establish a strong foot hold of their cultural identity.
The permanent fixture of foot looms in their community will also provide an opportunity to teach a new generation of young women artisans traditional weaving techniques that can preserved and passed on to future generations.
Sidai Maasai Women’s Organization is a Tanzanian group composed by 34 women and 4 men who produce traditional jewelry. Since its establishment in 2005, the organization has grown substantially from 5 to 11 employees and 40 producers. These artisans’ energy is used to work towards the goal of preserving the Maasai beading traditions and helping to economically sustain the women and their families, by providing education and empowerment through workshops and financial independence. The grant allowed the organization to buy their own tools which improved the quality of production, which then helped increase sales and the number of people employed. This had an enormous impact on their families such as improved nutrition; they now have more money for food, and improved education for their children.
Y’Abal Handicrafts is composed by several cooperatives of women in Guatemala. The organization was founded in 2005 to provide emergency disaster relief to two coastal indigenous communities, Pacutama and Chuicutama, which were displaced by Hurricane Stan and had to relocate in the highlands, a hostile environment for farming. Y’Abal started by providing them with essential goods before helping them to form a textile cooperative business to ensure the community’s economic stability. Since then, the organization grew to become a Fair-Trade business that now works with 65 indigenous women artisans in two cooperatives.
The Canvas Home Grant facilitated Y’Abal to attend the Fair Trade Federation Exposition in Vermont and network, not only with storeowners and new customers, but also with other artisan groups that are doing similar work. Aside from increased business sales, they learned business and management skills by networking with other artisan groups and workshop sessions provided at the conference.
Llaguepulli Mapuche Indigenous Community
The Llaguepulli Indigenous Community (TLIC) consists of 60 families living in the small Llaguepulli Peninsula, in the southern tip of coastal Lake Budi in south-central Chile. The community was established in June 1995, as a nationally recognized Indigenous Community and over the years has been widely renowned in the region for their peaceful and effective struggle for Mapuche human rights and self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship, self-management and education. Under a network of Mapuche ecotourism, TLIC has been successful in selling arts and crafts to tourists that visit their community. TLIC has included 2 outlets for artisanship where several artisans sell their creations at their workshops and homes, while two women artisans offer Mapuche loom workshops. The community has also the only community-managed school in Chile where students learn their cultural heritage, Mapuche history and language, and artisanal skills along with Western science and technology.
They used the grant money to invest in an industrial size overlock sewing machine that has been a great asset to the organization in more ways than one.It has enabled the artisans to train themselves, many for the first time, on how to use an Industrial sewing machine to finish their products. By enabling them to add decorative and functional elements, they were able to add value to their products enhancing the design aesthetic, durability and practicality in the process expanding on the conventional range of products.
As a result of the newly acquired overlock machine, this community has greater access to markets as now they are able to provide a diversity of apparel and decorative pieces. This has benefited the artisans not just boosting sales in a short time, but also their self confidence in tapping into new markets. This has resulted in the expansion of goals and strategies to grow as an organization through new partnerships with other businesses.