A Look Back at April 2024

April was a month of learning and growth for beneficiaries from all over the world! Enjoy reading updates from our projects, the Canvas Home Small Grants Program, and Artisan Business Lab.

Building Bridges: ATA’s Multi-Year Coaching Program Comes to a Close

For the last two years, Aid to Artisans (ATA) facilitated and coordinated the participation of 53 entrepreneurs from Madagascar, Ethiopia, Lesotho, and Uganda in our annual online training program, the eMarket Readiness Program (eMRP), two Market Familiarization Trips (MFT) in New York City, consisting of two trade show tours at Shoppe Object and NY NOW, retail store visits, and information sessions with buyers at NY NOW.

The program didn’t end there! In addition, ATA hosted virtual coaching sessions to help prepare 6 of these entrepreneurs to debut at NY NOW in February 2024. They were able to secure 22 orders, resulting in $9,928 in sales. As follow up to the show, we offered coaching sessions where these entrepreneurs were provided with tools on how to continue to build the relationships they had created as a result of the show.

Coaching on topics ranging from product development & design, building buyer relationships, and more were also offered to 10 additional entrepreneurs from Lesotho and Ethiopia to help them continue to build their businesses after participating in the eMRP and MFT.

This 18 month project has now come to an end, with beautiful words being shared by participants about their experiences. Nkotseng Moleko of Thethana shared:

“My biggest takeaway from this experience is that I’m much more confident in my knowledge and know the right steps to take to make overall improvements to my business. I’m also clearer on which areas to focus on and which platforms I can use to elevate my brand & current working structures.”

We want to extend our gratitude to Trade Facilitation Office Canada (TFO Canada) for sponsoring this multi-year coaching program. Below, find some images highlighting events of this unique program from September 2022 – April 2024.

Pictured: Hoseana of Zeel Clothing at NY NOW in February 2024 (top left), Entrepreneurs from Uganda and Madagascar visiting the Dos Tierras Booth at Shoppe Object during the MFT in February, 2023 (bottom left), Entrepreneurs from Madagascar and Uganda during the MFT in February, 2023 (bottom center), Entrepreneurs from Lesotho and Ethiopia visiting stores in NYC during the MFT in August, 2023 (bottom right).

Empowering the Voices of Youth in San Juan, Cancuc, México

On April 18th, 2024, the Komon A’tel 2.0, Building Spaces for Dialogue in San Juan Cancuc project, organized the second youth forum at COBACH 175, a local school in the Chilolja community in San Juan Cancuc. This pivotal event aimed to amplify the voices of young agents of change and foster dialogue on community development.

Attendees, including students from schools 3 different schools in the area, alongside allied organizations, gathered to share successful experiences, trajectories, and personal achievements. Through engaging discussions, participants identified challenges and limitations hindering their projects in their communities of origin, underscoring the importance of youth empowerment and collaboration.

The forum’s primary objective was to promote shared participation among youth in sustainable development, emphasizing a mindset change with a gender perspective and the recognition of human rights in these indigenous communities. Facilitated by teachers and a Parent Committee, the event provided a platform for youth to exchange ideas and insights, inspiring them to take an active role in shaping their communities’ future. As young participants continue their journey of empowerment, they shared that:

“These strategic gatherings of allied organizations recognize collaborative work because through intercultural dialogue, we can jointly propose solutions to local issues.” – Juan Vazquez Méndez (Youth Coordinator for the Komon A’tel 2.0 project)

The Komon A’tel 2.0, “Building Spaces for Dialogue in San Juan Cancuc,” project is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Pictured: Youth happy to participate in the activity (top right), Youth sharing ideas with the group (bottom left), Introduction of the alliance (bottom center), Youth working on the forum evaluation (bottom right).

2023 Canvas Home Small Grant Winners: Where Are They Now?

Back in September 2023, 10 businesses were announced as the winners of the Canvas Home Small Grants Program, receiving $1500 USD each to help them buy materials, tools, equipment, or improve their marketing. 6 months have passed since they received their grants, so let’s see what they did with it! The grant recipients span across 7 countries, each enterprise holding a different mission than the other. One thing they all have in common is the desire to help others.

With this grant, these 10 organizations either invested in raw materials, acquired essential equipment like sewing machines and tools, attended tradeshows to expand their network, or built out their marketing materials.

As a result, the grant has enabled them to enroll more vulnerable individuals in their programs, fostering self-reliance and skill development within communities, and has empowered them to expand their production capacity. Overall, this program has played a vital role in boosting confidence, establishing market presence, and fostering sustainable growth among grant recipients and their beneficiaries.

Keep an eye out for updates on how each business utilized their funds in detail, as well as updates on the opening of registrations for 2024!

Pictured: Prescraft – Organization in Cameroon (top left), Skilled Samaritan Foundation – Organization in India (bottom left), Woven Worldwide from Canada at Shoppe Object (bottom center), Passion Aid Foundation – Organization in Uganda (bottom right)

Infusing Culture into Creativity: A Recap of the Decolonizing Design Webinar

Carl Harrison’s webinar, Decolonizing Design, was hosted on April 15th, 2024, in collaboration with Artisan Business Lab. This insightful session explored various discussion points, including alternative creative vocabularies, innovative strategies, and leveraging cultural knowledge to enhance product value. Carl emphasized the importance of implementing creative ideas rooted in non-western perspectives, drawing from anthropological and cultural records.

His presentation encouraged participants to rethink their approach to design. Carl underscored the significance of embracing diversity, stating:

“Difference is to be valued, but in today’s day and age, everything is starting to look the same.”

This serves as a call to entrepreneurs to integrate their culture and narratives into their products, fostering uniqueness and an opportunity for others to share the stories behind their creations.

Pictured: Picture from Carl Harrison

Transform Frustration into Success with the eMarket Readiness Program (eMRP)

The eMarket Readiness Program (eMRP) supports global handmade entrepreneurs go from frustrated, unsupported and unclear about how to expand internationally, to empowered and connected, with a clear plan to grow their business. When you join our live, online program from September 9-13th, 2024, you will feel empowered when you attend presentations hosted by experts in the international handmade market, sharing their experiences, tips, and best practices.

You will feel connected when you work together virtually with your peers to discuss the topics of the day and if you choose to join our VIP coaching sessions. You will leave the program with a clear, 1-year plan to grow that you put together yourself as a result of everything you have learned throughout the week.

Don’t wait to turn your business into the business of your dreams. Take action and let the eMarket Readiness Program (eMRP) help you get there today.

Learn more about the program HERE. Sign up by June 21st, 2024 and receive 10% off your ticket when you add coupon code EARLYBIRD2024 at checkout.

Pictured: Training in Cape Town, South Africa discussing market entry strategies.

What’s Coming in May?

-24 youth in Burkina Faso exhibited their products at the Semaine Nationale de la Culture (SNC) show in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. Stay tuned to learn how it went!

-Our entire Aid to Artisans headquarters team will come together in Washington DC for our annual, in person meeting to discuss the future goals and plans of ATA.

-The second Water Forum will be held in San Juan Cancuc, México, on May 30th, 2024, as part of the Komon A’tel 2.0, “Building Spaces for Dialogue in San Juan Cancuc” Project.

Pictured: Beneficiaries from Passion Aid Foundation, winner of 2023 Canvas Home Small Grant, using their new materials.