Artisan Spotlight: The Canvas™ Small Grant Program Awardees

This past April, Aid to Artisans (ATA) relaunched its successful Small Grants Program in partnership with canvas™, a retailer of artisan furniture, ceramics, and textiles.

The Canvas Small Grants Program provides financial assistance to qualified craft producers from around the world. These grants are designed to allow artisan groups to acquire materials, tools, equipment, training, marketing services in order to expand employment and generate income.

In mid-June, the ATA Canvas Small Grants Committee met to review the numerous applications received. After careful deliberation, the committee awarded grants to seven artisan groups/craft producers from Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, and Macedonia.

ATA is proud to announce the Canvas Small Grants winners:

The women of Alhaya Erada for Sustainable Development

The women of Alhaya Erada for Sustainable Development

Alhaya Erada for Sustainable Development (Egypt)

Alhaya Erada for Sustainable Development (ASED) was established in 2009 to implement the USAID/Aid to Artisans funded project “Handmade in Egypt.” After the project ended in 2012, the organization continued to sustain the services delivered to artisans and to build on the activities and the link established locally and internationally. ASED operates on a national level and has widened the scope of its activity to work in raising the awareness and practice of social and economic rights of women artisans, to complement the economic development services to a full-fledged raising awareness cycle. Alhaya Erada fields of work are:  training & capacity building, technical support to artisans and artisans organizations; working with NGOs and MFIs, providing access to credits, organize sales and marketing activities for the artisans, and exchange of expertise locally and internationally. AESD’s main beneficiaries are women in marginalized and poor regions of the country, single mothers, young men and women in the most unprivileged areas of Egypt. 

Altyn Kol (Kyrgyzstan)

Altyn Kol Naryn artisans at their shop.

Altyn Kol Naryn artisans at their shop.

Altyn Kol was originally organized by a collection of Kyrgyz women in the Kochkor area with the support of Helvetas, for the purpose of marketing and selling of traditional felt handicrafts in 1996. In 1997, it held its first sales exhibition and began exporting this important component of Kyrgyz culture all over the world. By 1998, Altyn Kol was registered as an NGO with the mission of providing income to the local felt artisans of the Kochkor Region and thus carrying on Kyrgyz culture and traditions for generations to come. Since 2001, Altyn Kol has participated in several handicraft exhibitions in Switzerland and the US, including the Santa Fe Folk Art Market and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Today, it support approximately 40 local artisans by providing training, sales, and marketing services.

The students, apprentices, and co-director of the EcoDesign School.

The students, apprentices, and co-director of the EcoDesign School.

The Design Niche & Energy Solutions Foundation EcoDesign School Group (Ghana)

In 2002, The Design Niche (TDN) was started to benefit rural people with the goal of providing young people the means of earning income and pursuing an education. In 2009, Energy Solutions Foundation (ESF) began as an entity that could teach and advocate for alternative means of energy and fuel and waste and discarded materials to bring income while protecting the environment. In 2013, after previously collaborating with each other, TDN and ESF began an eco-craftsmanship school called the EcoDesign School in Ghana. The EcoDesign School focuses on the total eco-social development of student crafters and builders with sustainability in mind.

Kampala Fair (Uganda)

The Kampala Fair team.

The Kampala Fair team.

Kampala Fair was founded in 2007 with the purpose of providing real jobs that would give people decent working conditions, skills, a sense of pride in their work, and the ability to give themselves and their families a secure future. Founder and Creative Director, Mette Islandi wanted to build on the rich African culture of colorful textile designs. After three years of training, capacity building, and informal trading, Kampala Fair registered as a company in 2012. With a highly skilled group of artisans making unique home decor pieces, apparel, and accessories, Kampala Fair strives to build a sustainable business that provides skills development and promotes a positive image of African culture to an international audience.

Kork Fiber Art artisan at work.

Kork Fiber Art artisan at work.

Kork Fiber Art (Kyrgyzstan)

Kork Fiber Art was incorporated in 1996 to provide Kyrgyz people living in rural areas with a place to sell their traditional-based handmade wares. Its goal is to promote the commerce of traditional Kyrgyz handmade products. The artisans make the handicrafts out of natural fibers, specifically out of wool and silk. Kork Fiber Art has been featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2011 in connection with the Peace Corps.

 

The women of Malambo Grassroots at work.

The women of Malambo Grassroots at work.

Malambo Grassroots (Zambia)

In response to severe drought 21 years ago, Malambo Grassroots started their first craft group to alleviate both the depression and the poverty of the people in the rural area of Monze, Zambia. Since then they have expanded by creating satellite groups that make different craft items and small scale farming activities, improving the educational infrastructure of the schools that serve our communities, providing scholarships for the children of the communities, and bringing the older generations forward with their children to counteract alienation as communities modernize and traditions breakdown.

A MATA artisan works on a felt craft.

A MATA artisan works on a felt craft.

 

Macedonian Artisan Trade Association (Macedonia)

The Macedonian Artisan Trade Association (MATA) is a non-profit organization established by the members of the local staff of Aid to Artisans in Macedonia in 2005. MATA was formed in response to request by craft micro-entrepreneurs for continued assistance in the strategic areas of capacity-building and advocacy as they try to overcome structural constraints in the craft sector in Macedonia.