The U.S. Department of State and the Aspen Institute hosted the formal launch of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise at the Department’s George C. Marshall Center on Tuesday, November 27th. Representatives from the 22 founding organizations as well as approximately 150 private sector executives, senior government officials, and non-profit organizations participated in the event.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world, largely women, participate in the artisan sector. Behind agriculture, artisan activity is the second largest employer and in the developing world, often the primary means of income. However, the value chain for artisan enterprises is fragmented and fraught with barriers that inhibit greater economic value and returns from occurring. To address these challenges, the Aspen Institute is launching the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, a platform enabling companies, non-profits, governments, and international organizations to collaborate to support and grow artisan enterprises, provide best practice services to the organizations that support them, and to support the broader recognition of the importance of the artisan sector to development, economic growth and preservation of cultural heritage.
Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer and Executive Vice President of Policy and Public Programs, Elliot Gerson for the Aspen Institute, officially launched the Alliance and delivered opening keynote remarks. Following their remarks, members of the Alliance, including west elm, Walmart, USAID, the International Folk Art Market-Santa Fe, and Global Goods Partners discussed the economic value that artisans provide, critical barriers in the supply chain, areas of opportunity, and innovative collaborations the Alliance will leverage in order to expand market access for artisans globally. The event fell on Fair Tuesday, a response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, illustrating the power consumers can have in changing the lives of a community by purchasing one fair trade item.