July 2013

The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise


Governments, NGOs, artisans, retailers and international organizations partner to tackle obstacles.


Hundreds of thousands of people around the world participate in the artisan sector. Goldsmiths in Benin, silk weavers in Thailand, embroiderers in Afghanistan—all struggle for work that is real, that is used, that keeps ancient traditions alive, and that provides needed income for families.


Artisan enterprise is not generally considered a key driver of economic growth, nor looked to as a major component of development assistance efforts. And yet:


  • The artisan sector is a major job creator globally—especially for women. In the developing world, behind agriculture, artisan businesses are the second-largest employer and often the primary source of income.


  • Artisan enterprise accounts for a significant portion of export market share in many emerging economies.


  • Demand for products from the artisan sector is significant and projected to grow exponentially, with consumer and corporate interest in sourcing locally produced artisan goods, greater international and domestic tourism, and increased willingness to pay a premium for distinctive handmade goods.


  • The artisan sector fosters economic and community development, sustains ancient techniques and preserves culture and meaning, which is an essential component of sustainable development that respects the uniqueness of people and place.



Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market, now the largest folk art market in the world, fosters economic and cultural sustainability for folk artists worldwide and creates important intercultural exchange opportunities. Every second full weekend in July the market features more than 150 select folk artists from over 55 countries, attracting national and international visitors to Santa Fe, the first US city named to UNESCO’s prestigious Creative Cities Network.


The SFIFAM is a founding member of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, a collaborative of 27 organizations, corporations and individuals who are working together to support the power and potential of artisan enterprises to developing economies, communities and women entrepreneurs all over the world. The Alliance was founded in November, 2012 to help grow artisan enterprises, provide best practices services to the organizations that support them, and support the broader recognition of the importance of the artisan sector to development and preservation of cultural heritage. The Alliance’s first official meeting will be held in Santa Fe this month. Many of the members will attend. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org/AllianceforArtisanEnterprise





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