Facilitated Community-Building and Networking

The New Frontier of Entrepreneurship & Impact Investment: Reimagining the Potential of the Artisan Sector

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The artisan sector is the second-largest employer in the developing world after agriculture, worth over $32 billion every year according to the Artisan Alliance. Artisan activity creates jobs, increases local incomes, and preserves cultural traditions that in many places are at risk of being lost. Over 65% of artisan activity takes place in developing economies.

The majority of artisans are small producers – often women – working informally which too often means this is an overlooked, undervalued and underfunded economic sector with still untapped potential.

Sprout Enterprise® is a network of social entrepreneurs, artisans and designers creating new business models in the artisan sector to generate economic opportunities for marginalized or underserved communities.

We seek radical change at a systemic level to:

  • Elevate the value of creative, artisan-based enterprises as drivers of sustainable economic and community development:
  • Restructure the financing and funding of these enterprises; and
  • Ensure more equitable and inclusive benefit for all stakeholders.

This project is an evolving collaboration among those who are redesigning business models based on:

  • Sustainable and ethical business practices
  • Skills development and training to increase sales and profitability for producers
  • Revenue or profit sharing with producers
  • Revitalization, revaluation and representation of traditional crafts and cultural heritage
  • Shared ownership structures around brand, design and story

We are frustrated by the structural barriers to the growth and expansion of our initiatives — whether lack of appropriate capital and resources; mis-alignment with market demand; unsustainable cost structures; lack of external infrastructure; inequitable business models; or other challenges. These challenges are systemic in nature – and we seek radical change in the sector.

For SoCap Virtual, Sprout Enterprise® will host a series of interviews, panels and online learning opportunities to elevate craft as an economic sector with significant investment opportunity:

  • A series of interviews with entrepreneurs and impact investors exploring what works and what doesn’t in building businesses in this sector with a live fireside chat during SoCap Virtual; Annie Waterman, AOW Handmade, brings her curiosity and extensive experience in ethical sourcing, storytelling, creative marketing, and business mentoring to this series of interviews with purpose-driven social brands in the artisan sector.
  • A two-part, interactive panel during SoCap Virtual examining the approaches being used with engagement of the SoCap audience via live Q&A; Nureen Das of Artesan Gateway and Priya Krishnamoorthy of 200millionartisans.com moderate this discussion with entrepreneurs and investors in the artisan sector to understand the sector’s potential; why it presents an opportunity for investors and funders to shift their portfolios toward greater impact; and what are some of the pioneering ideas and models that are reimagining the potential for artisan-based enterprises.
  • A introductory session to online learning modules which help artisan-based enterprises develop their business and marketing strategies, and connect successfully with international buyers;  Karen Gibbs and Colvin English of By Hand Consulting draw on more than 20 years in the field to lead this workshop for entrepreneurs building artisan-based enterprises.
  • A curated, virtual showroom presenting the entrepreneurs, designers and artisans bringing these new business approaches to handmade apparel and home goods; Mireia Lopez, Blinded By Color Project, will bring her design aesthetic and experience to bear in presenting an evolving selection of co-designed, handmade collections.
  • A virtual exhibition introducing the context and cultural heritage of the craft communities engaged with our network through stories, photographs and videos; Ana Paula Fuentes, CADA Foundation, layers color and community in an inspirational series of photographic images of artisans, their crafts and their communities in southern Mexico.

Craft is the original circular economy.

The craft story is so much more than ethical sourcing for global brands. It’s the re-invention of craft – as a reflection of local resources, local culture and community – in a collective and contemporary framework for local communities as much as it is for a global audience.

This craft story is in many ways what the story of craft has always been – of making use of waste, left over or found materials, of design and innovation to perform the alchemy of material transformation into a product of function and beauty, of expressing and sharing our cultural and community values, and of telling our stories.

This is the next generation of craft.  Join us in appreciating its value and elevating the artisan sector of the creative economy.


Collaborators include:

Priya Krishnamoorthy, 200 Million Artisans

Nureen Das, The Artesan Gateway

Rashmi Bharti, Avani

Annie Waterman, AOW Handmade

Laerke Skyum, Ayni

Mireia Lopez, Blinded By Color Project

Karen Gibbs, By Hand Consulting

Colvin English, By Hand Consulting

Ana Paula Fuentes, CADA Foundation

Kirsten White, CoDesign Abroad

Kythzia Barrera, Colectivo 1050º

Luciana Jabur, DEED Lab, Parsons

Cynthia Lawson Jamarillo, DEED Lab, Parsons

Luni Libes, Fledge

Afshan Abbas, Fuchsia Shoes

Sahar Ghaheri, Grey Area Collective

Keith Recker, HAND/EYE Magazine

Hemendra Sharma, Kala Swaraj Foundation

Petra Valentocá, Imprinted Story

Smita Paul, Indigo Handloom

Neelam Chhiber, Industree Foundation, Mother Earth

Eliza Barbarczy, Itza Wood

Mary-Moore Cathcart, Kitchen + Goods

Heather O’Neill, Mushmina

Joellen Nicholson, Nicholson Consulting

Juhi Pandey, Nila House

Hedvig Alexander, Powered By People

Richa Agarwal, Pratt

Victoria Kirk-Owal, Protagonist Studio

Harper Poe, Proud Mary

Sreejith Nedumpally, Rope International

Sonica Sarna, Sonica Sarna Design

Ellen Fish, Sprout Enterprise®

Tanvi Bikhchandani, Tamarind Chutney

Charanya Shekar, Tamarind Chutney

Rachel Faller, tonlé

Nivedita Rai,  WomenWeave

Salime Harp Cruces, Xaquixe

Confirmed Panelists

Panel Moderators:  Priya Krishnamoorthy, 200 Million Artisans; Nureen Das, Artesan Gateway

Entrepreneurs: Rashmi Bharti, Avani;  Neelam Chhiber, Industree; Hedvig Alexander, Powered By People, Salime Harp Cruces, Xaquixe

Impact Investors: Luni Libes, Fledge; Audrey Selian, Artha Impact (Rianta Capital);

Interview series & fireside chat: Annie Waterman, AOW Handmade

Workshop: Karen Gibbs and Colvin English, By Hand Consulting

Exhibitions: Ana Paula Fuentes, CADA Foundation;  Mireia Lopez, Blinded By Color Project

Unconfirmed Panelists

Investor panelist:  Alejandra Luzardo, Inter-American Development Bank

Fireside chats with entrepreneurs and their investors or funders:  Rachel Faller, tonlé;  Laerke Skyum, Ayni; Afshan Abbas, Fuchsia Shoes.

Workshops & case studies: Sonica Sarna, Sonica Sarna Design; Kirsten White, CoDesign Abroad and Eliza Babarczy, Itza Wood.

Supporting Materials

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  1. The crafts industry allows desgns to be developed at a small sale while offering a balance relationship between humanos and nature, what creates unbalance is the misapprecistion of this wholeness.

  2. It is the need of the hour to strengthen the Artisan sector as it contributes in building a sustainable & safe future for all.

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