Latin America & The Caribbean
The Association of Bolivian Artisans, or ASARBOLSEM, is an association of member groups based on the traditional cooperative model. Members play an important role in overseeing the activities of the organization. ASARBOLSEM was established in 1989 to provide income opportunities for vulnerable people suffering the effects of el Niño and the loss of mining jobs. Until 1985, the mining industry dominated the Bolivian economy. By 1985, however, the mining sector was shrinking rapidly and many mines closed. This caused huge dislocation and migration forced people to move to the La Paz and El Alto region in search of work. ASARBOLSEM provides training and product development assistance to artisans, as well as marketing support.
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Asociacion de Artesanos Q'antati
The Q’antati Association of Artisans is the united effort of Bolivian artisans near Lake Titicaca and in the mountain outskirts of La Paz. All these artisans are members of indigenous peoples of Bolivia; the majority are Aymara people. The word Q’antati is Aymara for “dawn rising,” a symbol of the hope that this independent self–governed artisans’ association inspires. They create a broad range of traditional handicrafts, household textiles and musical instruments. Worker benefits are a high priority to members of this group. Members are elected to two–year terms in leadership positions but decision–making happens at all levels. The artisans of Q’antati have been working together since 1974. Committed to fair trade at all levels, Q’antati is a member of the International Fair Trade Association.
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Crisil Srl. is a family-owned business based in Cochabamba. Most of the artisans live in an adjacent neighborhood, which has only been in existence for the past 20-25 years. Most of the neighborhood's residents struggle to find employment, and thus Crisil Srl. provides a valuable source of livelihood. The business uses recycled glass collected from local garbage dumps by small businesses that collect and sort the bottles. The supply chain thus provides work for many of the poorest people in the region. Glass is cleaned at Crisil and then melted in furnaces. Products are produced, checked, packed and largely sold in Bolivia from this facility. A linked workshop manages engraving and export packing. Artisans work in teams, 12 in total; on the work floor, each group has its own internal organization headed by a master glassblower or coordinator.
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Sapia, formerly Piel Acida, was originally conceived in 1995 by Ana Piedrahita, an entrepreneur in Colombia's capital city of Bogota. Piedrahita had seen a box from Uruguay that was produced from dried orange peel, and recognized the potential for producing a wide array of unique and intriguing items from this material. She decided to pursue a business specializing in the design and production of the products. The organization was formally registered in 2000. Sapia has incorporated fair trade principles in its operation, as it seeks to develop the artisan-based handicraft sector in Colombia. While Colombia has recently achieved a relatively good macroeconomic climate, people in the lower income brackets continue to face serious challenges. They have used their sales growth as an opportunity to reach out to other artisan groups in rural areas of the country.
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COMPARTE is a non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of economically struggling artisan groups throughout Chile by promoting and exporting their handicrafts. By partnering with Chilean and international organizations, COMPARTE has grown to be the largest handicraft export organization in Chile, providing export, marketing, technical training and design assistance to more than 400 artisans throughout Chile.
COMPARTE was started in 1989 by USEC, the Social Union of Christian Entrepreneurs and Executives, whose goal was to apply the social doctrine of the Catholic Church to business and entrepreneurial fields. COMPARTE has carried out those values and has become a leader in promoting fair trade in Chile and the global marketplace. COMPARTE understands the power of Fair Trade to create a better world, and strives to connect the artisans with whom they work with individuals around the world who appreciate traditional handcrafts. Chilean handicrafts from COMPARTE reflect a diversity of skills and traditions, and include rainsticks from the Atacama desert, ceramics from the red soil of Pomaire, exquisite glasswork, and jewelry.
Camari, which means 'gift" in the Quechua language, was started in 1981 to respond to the problems facing small farmers and artisans of Ecuador in selling their products. Because of a lack of markets, many artisans and farmers were forced to sell to intermediaries at a low price and could not make a living. Camari offers artisans and farmers direct marketing outlets and fair payment. Today, through the sales of their products, they are providing alternative employment to more than 6,500 farmer and artisan families. Through training, credit, technical assistance and fair marketing of products, they are working to transform economic relationships to bring about hope, justice, and well being. Colorful and creative painted bread dough ornaments from Ecuador are a favorite among our customers, as are the tagua nut jewelry and decorations, a renewable resource from the Ecuadorian cloudforest.
In response to the rising costs of living in Ecuador during the 1980s, a group of faith-based communities organized to find a solution. The result was the formation of MCCH, a cooperative marketing organization which was started in 1985. Maquita Cushunchic Comercializando Como Hermanos, whose name is a mix of Quechua and Spanish and means 'Let's join hands and market as brothers", represents 400 groups from all regions of Ecuador who produce both handcrafts and agricultural products. MCCH works to improve the income of families by providing alternatives for artisans as well as local marketing of agricultural products from small farmers, the export of cacao and other food items, and socially responsible tourism. Purchases of crafts from MCCH help to preserve cultural traditions and contribute to economic growth.
El Renacer Chalateco
Chalatenango, a mountainous area in the northeastern corner of El Salvador, suffered great losses during El Salvador's internal armed conflict. El Renacer Chalateco, Spanish for 'A New Beginning in Chalatenango" started after the signing of the peace accords in 1991, to provide people affected by the war with a new beginning. El Renacer works with artisans in many small towns throughout Chalatenango, helping to market their products and provide them with training and new opportunities.
The Recycled Glass Cooperative of Cantel, COPAVIC, was formed in 1976 by the former employees of an Italian-run recycled glass factory in the village of Cantel, near the city of Quetzaltenango in Guatemala. The cooperative members applied for a loan, purchased land, constructed the heavy-duty kiln needed to melt glass, and began production. Combining their efforts, they created a workplace that was free of exploitation, where the artisans benefit directly from their work. In addition to earning a living wage, the artisans receive health care and life insurance and give back to their community by supporting basic community services like electricity, drainage, and the pavement of roads. The COPAVIC cooperative is committed to protecting the environment and transforms recycled glass into beautiful hand-blown items. Glass from soda and other beverage bottles is melted down, tinted, and used to produce a variety of glass items, including vases, sculptures, pitchers, and other household items.
Maya Traditions-Guatemala Wholesale
Maya Traditions works with more than 100 Maya women in five established groups in rural Guatemala. Predominantly working with women who do backstrap weaving, an ancient traditional art in Guatemala which women can do at home while caring for their families.
In addition, they work with a group of women crochet artisans, footloom weavers, and small family businesses to establish a Guatemala wholesale market for artisans.
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All of Unique Batik's products are handmade by fairly paid artisans. We think happy hands make better products and a better world. Regular orders from Unique Batik create choices and opportunities. Artisans know in advance how much they will earn and can plan for the future. The security of a good job is one of the best ways to ensure that families are healthy, have food on the table and kids are in school.
Guatemala is a land of vibrant colors where artisans love reinventing patterns and materials. Their creativity is boundless. The artisans are always up for a new challenge, whether it is making whimsical beaded mermaids or adventure ready backpacks. Unique Batik values exceptional skills and quality work. We pay fair wages and invest in community projects. This makes for trusting relationships and happier artisans. Their happiness matters, and it shows in their beautiful products.
Go forth with good karma on your body knowing that an artisan family thanks you.
© Unique Batik
Caribbean Craft-Painted Metal Art
Founded in 1990 by a multinational group of young entrepreneurs, Caribbean Craft promotes employment in Haiti by training unskilled craftspeople, and by assisting the independent artisans through the introduction of new designs and new market outlets for painted Haitian metal art.
Caribbean Craft's specialty is the brightly colored, artistically hand-painted Haitian metal art wall hangings. These hand-painted Haitian metal art pieces are truly works of art.
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Comite Artisanal Haitien
The nonprofit Comité Artisanal Haitien (CAH) was founded in 1973 to help rural craftspeople sell their wares in Port–au–Prince, to provide income and to help reduce the flow of migration from the countryside to the city. Though rural to urban migration continues, CAH helps artisans earn a living from their skills. The economic situation in Haiti is bleak, and the need for income generation is great. CAH craft sales often are the sole income source for artisans and their families. CAH markets and exports crafts made by Haitian artisans, cooperatives and craft groups, who depend on CAH to find a fair price for their handicrafts. CAH provides marketing and promotional expertise, training in literacy and business skills for artisans, and financial assistance in case of health emergencies.
CAH represents more than 170 individual Haitian artisans and groups, including the artisans from Cite Soleil and other poor areas in and around Port-au-Prince, who create beautiful works of art from recycled metal drums which have become hallmarks of Haitian craftsmanship. In Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, jobs are scarce and the money earned from craftmaking is not just supplemental, it is often the sole source of income for most artisans and their families.
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Haitian Metal Art
We met Carlo Brutus in Croix des Bouquets, the wholesale Haitian metal art capital of Port-Au-Prince, Haitian metal artists are known for making oil drum wholesale metal art. The constant hammering of Haitian metal art from the sheds in the area led us to beautiful wholesale metal art, with each stop offering new designs.
Eugene's shed was tucked behind several others and yielded unique three-dimensional Haitian metal art masks with cogs and bicycle chains for earrings. Each piece is a work of art and signed with "Eugene.” Carlo has what seemed like hundreds of different design of the ubiquitous round Haitian metal art. With wholesale metal art hanging from every inch of wall space in his tiny warehouse.
© Global Craft
Art Camp Mexican Jewelry
The artisans of Tecalpulco, Mexico have long been known for their silver and abalone jewelry. ArtCamp, short for Artesanas Campesinas (or rural female artisans), is a women-owned cooperative that continues this tradition. The group constantly introduces new methods, materials, and machinery to compete in the highly competitive jewelry market, even surviving a collapse in the marketability of their pieces in the 1990s after jewelry from other countries flooded the US market. The artisans have become business women, understanding the importance of customer service, quality, and design. Their product range includes semi-precious stones, shells, and even tiny flowers captured in resin. Each piece is accentuated by silver alloys or precious metals, and represents the tradition of fine Mexican jewelry.
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MYO Accessories is well aware of the poverty among indigenous groups in central Mexico, where the family-run business is located. The business was started to help these people live better lives by employing the rural women to make their products, such as the candy wrapper purses. In addition to offering these women employment, they give them the opportunity to take the materials to their homes so they can better care for their families while they work, and whatever materials are left over are free for the women to use in personal ventures. This helps improve the quality of their lives as well as provide a sustainable income.
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Union Progresista Artesanal
Taxco el Viejo is a small village in the mountains of the state of Guerrero and is home to the jewelry cooperative Union Progresista Artesanal (UPA). Because farming and the occasional sale of a piece of jewelry did not provide enough income to support a family, in 1987 the original members of UPA founded the cooperative with a commitment to raise family incomes by producing and marketing their products collectively and to promote community development projects.
Today, UPA has become a successful fair trade cooperative. While many people in the surrounding area of Guerrero have been forced to migrate in search of work, the members of UPA are able to earn a living wage and have stable work throughout the year. UPA focuses on supporting impoverished single mothers from their community through training, with the goal of full time employment. UPA also supports the community by responding to needs as they arise. In the past, they have initiated garbage collection campaigns, school donations, and youth programs. Manuel Alvarez, jewelry maker and current president of the cooperative, says about his work with UPA, 'We have the basics of what we need like food and schooling. Now we can look for other activities, have more choices. I like working here because this work has a meaning. I can see the cause and the effect of what we are doing, and that is gratifying."
Xochipilli is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization that helps artisans find permanent markets for their products. Xochipilli and its sister organization, Xochiquetzal, an alternative trade marketing group, are named for the Prince and Princess of Flowers in Aztec mythology. The two divinities are associated with love, creativity and self-expression. With a goal of achieving permanent markets, these joint organizations benefit hundreds of families in south-central Mexico through training in marketing and product development. They work to generate local employment for artisans and create sustainable community development. Xochipilli, based in Cuernavaca, was formed in 1990 to market and promote Mexican crafts. Xochipilli artisans focus on low-fire ceramics, but also produce high-fire ceramics, tinware, hand-blown glass, and onyx and alabaster items.
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For 25 years, Allpa has created and marketed fair trade Peruvian crafts of innovative design. Allpa emphasizes social responsibility with its producers and workers and is committed to fair trade principles. Allpa was formed in 1986 as a way to help artisans develop their skills with the idea of finding new markets for them in the fair trade world. Since then, their main purpose has been to offer high quality, handmade products with sustained benefits for the artisans who craft them. Allpa has supported hundreds of artisans throughout Peru with fair trade values, product development and technological assistance, financial loans, and new market opportunities. Today, Allpa's team is comprised of professionals, technicians, consultants, artisans and designers. They work together to combine design, traditional craftwork, quality, social responsibility, and fair trade principles. Allpa works in textiles, silver jewelry, woodcrafts, and pottery.
Intercrafts Peru is the marketing and export arm of CIAP, a grassroots organization founded by and for artisans in 1992 to improve the living and working conditions of small crafts people. CIAP is made up of 21 artisan group members, representing 700 artisans throughout Peru, including marginal areas of Lima, Ayacucho, Huancayo, Cuzco, Puno, Piura, Pucallpa and Arequipa. Important decisions within CIAP are made democratically in annual assembly meetings of representatives of each of the member organizations. Daily operations and planning are overseen by a Board of Directors, elected from the member organizations. CIAP offers its members benefits such as access to health care, a rotating loan fund and advances to purchase raw materials. CIAP has also established a responsible tourism business, a savings and loan cooperative, and is active in promoting fair trade in Peru.
Manos Amigas is a fair trade organization that works with small artisan organizations throughout Peru. By supporting artisans through training and finding markets for their products, they help to preserve the variety of handcraft traditions of Peru. Manos Amigas, which means 'hands of friendship', gives twenty percent of its profits to help fund social welfare projects, like school scholarships, uniforms, and a feeding program for poor children. They work with 6 artisan associations and 70 family workshops in the Lima area and outlying rural villages. Artisans affiliated with Manos Amigas benefit from advances on their orders, technical assistance, help with new product design and training in areas such as administration, accounting, and production.