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Mela Artisans Goes to Washington, DC

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Last week, Mela Artisans participated in a special event hosted by the State Department and the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise to launch a new campaign: CHOOSE ARTISAN. 1 DJMEmmW5u54-WjPncxPLsQ The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise began in 2012, recognizing that thousands of artisans around the world are still not connected to the global economy. That’s changing.

The Alliance estimates that between 2002 and 2008, the world exports of artisan products nearly doubled: from $17.5 billion to $32 billion, respectively.

It’s well-known in the development sector that artisan work is the second largest employer, after agriculture. Craft, therefore, is a commercially-viable art. That’s why the Alliance works to help more artisan-based communities connect with retailers, social enterprises, foundations, and companies looking to sell and promote their products. Since its inception, they’ve accumulated 60 members. The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise (or more casually known as the Alliance) — a collaboration between The Aspen Institute and the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) for the U.S. Department of State — is a global platform to promote artisan enterprises with a specific focus on women artisans and their families. Last week, on September 10th, The Alliance partnered with the U.S. Department of State to launch a Global Campaign for the artisan sector. The event was called the New StartUp Economy Forum.
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  That’s where we come in. Navroze Mehta, co-founder of Mela Artisans, flew to DC for the festivities. Follow @AllianceArtisan for more about the campaign and how you can get involved. Comment to tell us why you #chooseartisan @MelaArtisans on Twitter and Instagram. Here are some snapshots from the event: Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on the importance of the craft sector for the UN’s Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals and the global economy:

“…Although it’s still in its infancy, this Alliance for Artisan Enterprise has literally already become an important platform for identifying and breaking down barriers to small-scale artisans in countries all across the developing world.”

— Secretary of State John Kerry

Ambassador Cathy Russell speaking about women artisans at the @allianceartisan event

On supporting women artisans, Ambassador Cathy Russell says:

 “Women are much more likely to put their paychecks back into their families than men are.”

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The first commitment begins with a preservation of a culture, the passing of a history, each weaving, each stitch telling a story.”

—Verna Eggleston of Bloomberg Philanthropies

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“Two-thirds of SEWA’s members are from rural India…We tumbled across crafts. Every woman in the deserts of India has a craft skills but they do not use it as a means to generate a source of livelihood.”

— Reema Nanavati, Head of SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association of India, pictured in the middle)

 

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