A Look Back at May 2024

The month of May came with multiple activities and opportunities, spanning across the globe! We hope you enjoy reading this month’s updates from the Aid to Artisans (ATA) Team.

Manos Vivas 2.0 is Back Up and Running

We thought that January 2024 would mark the end of our Manos Vivas 2.0 project, but we have great news. This multi-year initiative in Mexico will extend for another year! The 15 person in-country team will continue to train communities across the Yucatan and Chiapas regions on how to build strong artisan businesses and to support savings group initiatives. Our team will continue to work with the same textile, home décor, fashion, and food-producing artisans so that participants have the infrastructure for sustainable success long after the project ends.

Our training methodology, though, will be slightly different than before. The team will now be hosting module-style coaching sessions. What does this look like? Each artisan group will elect a representative to attend a specific class hosted in their local community and language to master their topic of choice. As the project comes to an end, each representative will be able to share their knowledge with their groups and continue to build their businesses. Stay tuned to learn more about this ongoing initiative!

The Manos Vivas 2.0 project extension is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Pictured: Artisans from Mariposas del Sur in the Yucatan region working on a costing and pricing assignment in October 2023.

Lekil Kuxlejalil: A Forum on Health in Indigenous Communities in Chiapas, Mexico

On May 15th, 2024, as part of the Grow Together Alliance – Sitalá: A Path to Self-Management project, we hosted our first ever health forum titled “Lekil Kuxlejalil.” The phrase means “Good Life” or “Well Being” in Tzotzil, a Mayan Language indigenous to the Chiapas region in Mexico. This event aimed to make the work of traditional health providers such as midwives and people who work with medicinal plants more visible and valued within their community.

With 71 participants from the community, including health promoters, midwives, and speakers, the event created a platform where all participants could learn about and discuss the many different traditional medicinal practices that are still used within their communities. Many participants shared that they did not know that these practices still existed and that there is a community within their own that can provide them with these medicines.

One midwife shared, “When people no longer have hope with the doctors, they come to us, and we help them, and they are cured of their illnesses.”

The “Grow Together Alliance – Sitalá: A Path to Self-Management” project is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Pictured: Team assisting midwives in a group activity (top left), participants presenting on health workers they identified within their community as a result of this forum (bottom left), Alliance facilitator supporting a group discussion activity with the midwives (bottom center), handing over a photo of a deceased midwife to a family member (bottom right).

Putting Learning into Action in Burkina Faso

During the entire month of May, a total of 21 youth beneficiaries as part of our Resilience through Craft initiatives from the communes of Koudougou and Bobo-Dioulasso participated for the first time in three local fairs throughout Burkina Faso.  During preparation, the participating youth learned how to properly set up their booths and design their product display to catch the eyes of customers passing by.

As the fairs began, they had the opportunity to practice and learn how to sell to prospective buyers, resulting in a 62% increase in sales since their first ever show in January. All profits went directly back to their newly registered youth association.

The three fairs took place in Bobo Dioulasso and Ouagadougou, exposing the youth to different market targets. Through these experiences, they also discovered which products are in demand, and which products they can develop within their associations to grow their own collections. By the end of the fairs, the youth participants had gained an understanding of the different shows that exist within their nation and were able to put their newfound skills into action.

This project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with Creative Associates International (Creative) and their sub-partner, Lutheran World Relief (LWR).

Pictured: Youth at Semaine Nationale de la Culture (SNC) Fair in Bobo Dioulasso (top right), Mother’s Day Market in Ougadougou (bottom left), Youth developed products in the booth at the SNC Fair (bottom center), Booth at Souk’Art Festival in Bobo Dioulasso (bottom right)

ATA HQ Team Came Together in Washington, D.C.

At the start of May, our ATA headquarters team came together for their annual in-person meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss all things ATA. Our team of 9 US-based staff members and two interns, typically work across the United States.

Coming together once a year is a great way for us to plan the future of ATA and discuss what we can collectively do to ensure we are best serving our communities and partners the best way possible

One question we asked ourselves was: What makes ATA unique? Maud Obe, Aid to Artisans Director, shared:

“I feel we are unique because we get to work with one person at a time, one family at a time, and we see tangible results right away.”

Over the next year, we hope to continue to find and support new projects around the world, continue to grow our education platform, Artisan Business Lab, and expand our reach as an organization. We are committed to supporting our artisan community and are excited to witness individuals and families grow within the handmade sector.

Pictured: A few members of the ATA Team from 2024

Artisan Business Lab’s Founding Member Launch was a Success

Artisan Business Lab is ATA’s unique online education platform that came to life during COVID-19, offering self-paced online courses tailored specifically to the artisan sector. On May 20th, 2024, we hosted a founding member launch of a new membership opportunity on Artisan Business Lab. By the weekend, we welcomed 51 founding members, who over the next 5 months will co-create this membership platform with us.

They will be doing so by attending monthly meetings and sharing their ideas and needs as entrepreneurs in the sector. In return, we will provide them with the resources they need to create thriving businesses. Why have we chosen to implement a membership model? We want to be able to work with entrepreneurs in the long term and build a community. The goal of this platform is do just that and provide easily accessible resources to members that can help them on their path to a thriving business.

We are very excited to develop this membership together with members of the community and cannot wait to open this opportunity to the public in the future.

Pictured: Rikki Quintana of Hoon Arts at the Las Vegas Market 2019, now an Artisan Business Lab Founding Member

Adopting a Values-First Approach to Sources: Lessons Learned from Sara Collins

Sara Collins’ webinar, Sourcing Ethical Handmade Suppliers for Your Business, was hosted on May 13th, 2024, in collaboration with Artisan Business Lab. This 90-minute webinar explored practical sourcing tips for ethical procurement in the handmade sector, adopting a values-first approach to selecting handmade suppliers, and so much more! It is crucial to ensure that all aspects of your business align to your brand values.

Sara emphasized the importance of keeping these values at the forefront of your mind while you explore different suppliers and develop your products.

Her presentation encouraged participants to think about their own sourcing experiences and provided them with a space to discuss. One participant shared:

“I am currently running a pilot furniture project…one thing that I took for granted was that I never, actually, set values for the project… I never thought about values between one producer and the other, and the suppliers and the designers.”

Pictured: Picture of Sara Collins

Eliminate Guessing and Move Your Business Forward with Confidence

Everything always seems to be changing, whether it’s the trends in the handmade sector, global opportunities, or buyer preferences. You may feel unsupported or unsure about how to best tackle these constant changes. Or, you don’t know where to find answers and are just ready for some type of stability.

The eMarket Readiness Program (eMRP) will show you how to tackle trends and buyer relationships with confidence and provide clarity on all questions you may have to help you propel your business forward.

Join us live and online from September 9-13th, 2024. 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: eMRP in 2021.

What’s Coming in June?

-The “Resilience Through Craft” project in Burkina Faso is coming to an end. Get ready to learn about all the closing activities and what is next for these talented youth.

-Early Bird registration for the eMarket Readiness Program is closing soon! Reserve your spot HERE before it’s too late!

-Ready to know exactly what all 10 winners of last year’s Canvas Home Small Grants did with their awards? Follow along to read our report soon!

Pictured: Burkina Faso youth at their booth at the SNC Fair in Bobo Dioulasso