Return to Home Page About Us Fair Trade Artisans News Contact Us

Artisans' World Marketplace offers you the chance to discover how others see the world through their art.

Fair trade uplifts and empowers traditional culture while generating significant income and educational opportunities for disadvantaged communities.

Quality products utilizing simple resources like wire, stone, and fabrics made with natural dyes become woven bowls, graceful forms, and vibrant clothing.

We invite you to meet some of our gifted artisans, through their work, where you will unravel talent, determination, and an artisans' desire to connect with others.
Artisans' features products from these countries.
Click a country to learn more.

Paradiso: Jewels of Bali

Since 1981, Paradiso has worked directly with a small group of silversmith families in the village of Celuk Bali, Indonesia. Providing materials, education, design, and product development, Paradiso focuses on helping producers to maintain the rich quality of their village life in the face of rapid change and economic development. Paradiso's unique jewelry designs combine traditional techniques with contemporary elements, unusual material, and a large collection of gemstones gathered worldwide.

Info & photo courtesy Paradiso
Rumia Begum

CORR was started in 1973 by CARITAS/Bangladesh, the Catholic Service organization, to give rural women the option of staying home with their children and still earning supplemental income for their families. CORR (Christian Organization for Relief and Rehabilitation), like other Bangladeshi development organizations, was established at the end of the war of partition which divided Pakistan into East (Bangladesh) and West (Pakistan) in 1971. The 4,200 women artisans, who are members of 214 rural cooperatives, produce jute and ceramic products in between household chores and family responsibilities. Fruit and timber saplings are provided to producers to ensure the regeneration of scarce fuel resources and to provide food.

Rumia Begum (member of the Taltoli Mohila Samity) said, "Women should be aware of their rights." She thinks that a woman can survive alone through income generation, if they get good market for them. Rumia thinks that CORR-JW has changed the lives of many destitute rural women.

Info & photo courtesy A Greater Gift
Juan Carlos Mejia

Juan Carlos Mejia is a native of La Paz, Bolivia. His talent for whimsical woodworking is a by-product of a carpentry apprenticeship, a childhood passion for drawing and painting, experience as a worker in a local circus, plus countless trips to the nearby tropical Yungas region for observations of the wild creatures he uses as subjects for his work. Juan Carlos describes his work in basic terms. First sketching a simple design with pencil and paper, he then cuts the outline from a piece of cedar wood by machine. The carving of the body is the most important process. Legs, wings, and feet are carved from separate pieces of wood and attached with pegs. Finally, the animals are hand painted with acrylic paint in bright and contrasting colors. The simplicity of his description is, however, in contrast to the vitality of the animals he makes. His creatures come to life through a delightful combination of posture, color, and artistic whimsy.

Info & photo courtesy Inka Urpi Galeria
Prescraft Carver

Prescraft started in the early 1960s as a mission project of the Presbyterian Church in the English-speaking northwest province of Cameroon. Its goals are: 1) to provide employment, 2) to stem the flow of peasants from the rural areas to the cities, 3) to preserve traditional craft skills, and 4) to instill self-confidence in the craftsmen. Currently, about 75 artisans are marketing their products through Prescraft. Three well-equipped workshops in the villages of Bali, Bafut, and Bamessing produce musical instruments, brass, ceramics, woodcarvings, baskets, and toys.

Info & photo courtesy A Greater Gift
Patricio Munoz, Ceramicist

COMPARTE (Comercializadora de Productos Artesanales S.A.) is also the Spanish word meaning "to share." COMPARTE was started by USEC (The Association of Christian Businessmen and Executives), a non-profit organization made up of Christian professionals, businessmen, and executives dedicated to incorporating their Christian values into all areas of their lives. Chilean handcrafts from COMPARTE reflect the country's "geographical extravaganza:" copper products and cactus rainsticks from the Atacama desert; ceramics from the red soil of Pomaire; and jewelry made with the traditional deep blue lapis stones mined in the high Andes.

Info & photo courtesy A Greater Gift
Carlos Chango, Weaver

MCCH (Maquita Cushunchic Comercializando Como Hermanos), which in Quechua and Spanish means "Let's join hands and Market as Brothers," is a cooperative marketing organization which was started in 1985 by Christian base communities in Ecuador as a response to the rising costs of living. It represents 400 groups from all regions of the country. The organization is divided into four sections: 1) Community Shops in the cities which sell handcrafts made by rural artisans, 2) An Agricultural sector made up of small farmers who collectively market their products, 3) Ecotourism lodges which train peasants to work in the hospitality industry, and 4) Women's groups which market their handcrafts collectively and fight against injustice.

Info & photo courtesy A Greater Gift

Divine Chocolate
Cocoa Farmer

The Kuapa Kokoo cooperative was created in 1993 when cocoa farmers in Ghana united to negotiate better prices for their cocoa and empower small farmers. Kuapa Kokoo now represents 45,000 cocoa farmers and has a stake in the first farmer-owned chocolate company in the world, the Day Chocolate Company. The company, a London-based partnership between British ATO's Twin Trading, the Body Shop, and Comic Relief, and the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative, launched its first bar of milk chocolate in 1998. Because of this unique partnership model, the cocoa farmers in Ghana participate directly in the decisions made by the organization and share in any potential profits. Kuapa's cocoa growers also receive above-market Fair Trade premiums for their cocoa beans which are used to fund community development projects like wells and schools. The company recently changed its name to Divine Chocolate Limited.

'We all have to go shopping. Fair Trade is just shopping with respect."
Mr. Ohemeng-Tinyase, Managing Director of Kuapa Kokoo, Ghana.

Info & photo courtesy A Greater Gift

Elsa Hernandez. Seamstress

UPAVIM, or United for a Better Life (Unidos Para Una Vida Mejor), is a group of 78 women who live in marginalized communities on the outskirts of Guatemala City. They are all mothers and homemakers; many are the sole breadwinners in their families; some are widows or abandoned by their husbands. In spite of a variety of social problems in the area (gang violence, illiteracy, drug abuse, unemployment, malnutrition, alcoholism), the community is called La Esperanza (hope) and the women of UPAVIM have kept their hope alive. In 1989, with the help of American nurse Barbara Lorraine, a group of 10 women decided to start selling handcrafts to support a pre-natal education program for young mothers. Today UPAVIM exports fair trade crafts around the world and the proceeds help fund low cost day care, a primary school with Montessori trained teachers, a medical clinic, a laboratory and pre-and post-natal services. To the women of UPAVIM, fair trade means fair wages, work with dignity, and community development!

Info & photo courtesy A Greater Gift
Comite Artisanal Haitien
Jean-Perotin Ladouceur

Haitian handcrafts are a reflection of the vibrancy and creativity of its people, and for over 30 years, Comite Artisanal Haitien (CAH) has been committed to working with Haitian artisans to find markets for their products to help them earn a dignified living.

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, the poorest country 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. We have had a long-time commitment to CAH, working with them since 1976. Look for their unique metal artwork, riverstone carvings and handpainted wood products.

Info & photo courtesy A Greater Gift

Freeset works with impoverished women in red light districts and slum communities in Calcutta, India. Each bag made by the women of Freeset tells a story of a woman's journey to freedom. One woman used to stand with 6,000 other prostitutes in a small but well-known area of North Calcutta. She didn't choose her profession; it chose her. Poverty robs people of their dignity and children of their innocence. She still lives in the same area, but instead of selling her body she makes Freeset bags. She now has choices, the choice to work decent hours for decent pay, to re-establish her dignity in her community and to learn to read and write. Her daughter won't have to stand in the street selling her body like her mom used to. Freedom has been passed on to the next generation. Freeset gift bags help women to overcome poverty, oppression and the unjust destiny of being born poor.

Info & photo courtesy Bright Hope International
Siwi, Batik Artisan

The APIKRI Cooperative was established in 1987 to promote craft development, generating income for peasants in rural areas where land is at a premium, and for those displaced to the cities. Although Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, APIKRI, a non-profit marketing organization, works with artisan groups representing many different faiths. APIKRI (the Foundation for the Development of Indonesian People's Handicrafts) promotes traditional handcrafts produced by 230 artisan groups, representing 2,000 Indonesian artisans.

Info & photo courtesy A Greater Gift
Kenana Knitters

Kenana Knitters started in 1998, the primary object being to help rural women find some much needed form of income utilizing their spinning and knitting skills. The group buys homespun wool produced locally, then knits it into toys, bed-covers, jerseys, socks, scarves, hats and other fashion and sport accessories. The wool comes naturally in cream, browns and greys... Part of the charm of the items is the many different shades, the same as those of the multi-coloured flocks of local sheep! Colours are obtained from dying the wool with traditional plants, propagated and grown in our garden so as not to impact adversely on the environment.

Njoro is mainly a farming area-agricultural work for the men is easier to come by than for the women-folk, yet agricultural wages are insufficient to support large and extended families. This group generates two forms of income, buying the wool, then creating more work by turning the wool into a marketable product. The money goes directly into the hands of the women who are thus able to improve the quality of their lives.

info & photo courtesy Dwelling LLC
Gakush Cooperative
James "Gakush" Gakunju

James Gakunju was born in Nyeri on the slopes of Mt Kenya. He attended his primary education and secondary schools in Nairobi. James worked many jobs before he decided to become a full time artist. For as long as he can remember, art was his hobby. He is a self-taught artist and has had no formal training as an artist. He believes that he was born to be an artist. James gets his inspiration from traditional African art. He paints with stylized figures and animals, which are freely drawn with a sense of humor. James signs his paintings with his nickname "Gakush". He created a self-help handicapped workers cooperative workshop to assist him in his production. This also gives the workers an opportunity to be self-sufficient. The batik art and greeting cards are all hand painted by members of this workshop.

info & photo courtesy Dwelling LLC
La Naranja

The small group of women in La Naranja who produce the clay drums came together relatively recently. Several years ago they were invited to a drum-making workshop facilitated by Potters for Peace. From all those who attended the workshop, they were the only group that returned to their community and applied what they had learned. They know all too well from their lives in a poor agricultural community that nothing should be taken for granted or wasted. They use their hands, the clay from the nearby river, and the skins from the cattle of neighboring communities to create these hearty sounding drums.

Info & photo courtesy A Different Approach
Dominion Traders

Nearly 20 independently-owned onyx workshops, each employing about 100 workers, are associated with Dominion Traders, based in Karachi, Pakistan. Onyx boulders are shipped from mines in Naukundi, near the Afghanistan border to Karachi, where a representative from each onyx workshop selects the blocks of stone with the most beautiful colors and grains. The huge blocks are then cut into smaller chunks using a lathe-like machine with a circular blade. Each individual artisan then carves the onyx into bowls, animals, candlesticks, bookends, lamps, and boxes taking advantage of the natural colors and grains. Pakistani artisans also create beautiful shesham furniture, carved with intricate patterns.

Info & photo courtesy A Greater Gift
Lucuma Designs

Lucuma Designs works with over 250 talented, self-taught artists in 15 different groups, co-operatives and family workshops. They are expert carvers, gifted painters, master knitters, and skilled quilters. The techniques they practice have stood the test of time, passed down through their families from generation to generation. We work hand in hand with these artisans, lending the support and encouragement needed to redefine their traditional skills into creative pieces for modern day life. Some of our artists lead a very traditional life high up in the Andean mountains. They live on farms, raise livestock, grow their own food and make their own clothing. Their existence is simple in nature, although not always easy. Others have moved to the outskirts of Lima, the capital city of Peru, bustling with over 9 million people. Here, they've learned to turn their artistic talent into opportunity. Like the pieces they create, each of our artists have a unique and interesting story.

Info & photo courtesy Lucuma Designs
Saffy Handicrafts
Juanita Amigo, Capiz Artisan

SAFFY (an acronym for Social Action for Filipino Youth) Handicrafts handles the marketing and exporting for the Social Action Foundation for Rural and Urban Development (SAFRUDI), a community development organization which was started by an order of Belgian nuns in 1966 to provide employment for women and young people. Besides income generation programs, SAFRUDI has been involved in organizing farmers and fishermen, nutrition education, and emergency medical care. About 20 groups on the Visaya Islands and on Luzon are producing stuffed toys, capiz items, and jewelry for SAFFY.

Info & photo courtesy A Greater Gift
South Africa
Original T-Bag Designs

The story began in 1996 when Jill Heyes moved to South Africa from England. Seeing the poverty in the local "informal settlement," Imazamo Yethu, Jill wanted to help. She began teaching some local women crafts. They unsuccessfully attempted to sell paper mache and potato printing products, but they didn't give up. Fortunately so, for in 2000, Original T-Bag Designs was created. The original group of ladies have become skilled and talented artists. T-Bags now employs 15 permanent staff and a number of additional employees work part-time. In addition, 10 people with disabilities from within the community are employed to assist with sanding products. Their workshop is a tourist destination and they sell their products at the workshop, at Cape Town's Waterfront Market, and in Europe and the United States.

Info & photo courtesy Original T-Bag Designs
Sri Lanka
Mr. Ellie Pooh

I am Mr. Ellie Pooh. I live in the jungle which used to have plenty of food. Now there are too many people on earth cutting even the little available forest. This leaves me with little food to eat. Being the biggest mammal on land, I am always hungry and go in search of food to where people live and farm. The people get scared and try to harm me and chase me to protect their food. As a result many of my relatives and many of the people's relatives get killed. Now I hear that people collect my dung from paddy fields and forest borders where I roam. As an adult with the world's biggest appetite, I eat an average of 400 pounds of food and go to the toilet 16 times a day. My diet consists of plants which are mainly fiber. They sun dry the pooh for a whole day and boil it to kill off any germs. Then they beat it into a pulp in a giant blender. The pulp is put into a mould submerged in a water vat. Magically a sheet of paper is formed without cutting down any trees or adding harmful chemicals like some big paper mills do. A screw press takes the water away and forms the pulp into thin sheets. Each 22 pounds of pulp makes nearly 660 sheets of paper. The naturally shade dried paper sheets are sent through two heavy rollers, ironing the paper. I never knew that what I had eaten could make paper that could give people jobs in areas that I live in. I am told if people have jobs making paper and products from what I produce, their children will tell their parents not to shoot me. I think we can live happily together.

Info & photo courtesy Mr. Ellie Pooh
United States
The Enterprising Kitchen (TEK)

The Enterprising Kitchen (TEK), a nonprofit social enterprise, provides workforce development and support services to women who are working toward self-sufficiency and economic independence. Within the context of a business where we manufacture natural soaps and spa products, under the brand name Choices from The Enterprising Kitchen, women receive intensive workforce preparation and skills development including: paid employment, work and life skills training, individualized career planning, high school equivalency preparation, technology training, financial planning and a variety of other support services. Located in Chicago, our enterprise enables lower-income women who have been unemployed and underemployed to maximize their individual potential and move into sustainable employment after 6-12 months. The Enterprising Kitchen was founded in 1996 and in 2005 relocated to a larger, more efficient training and production facility located in Chicago's Ravenswood industrial corridor.

Info & photo courtesy The Enterprising Kitchen
Mai Handicrafts

Mai Handcrafts was started by two social workers who were concerned about improving the lives of street children and single mothers in Ho Chi Minh City and ethnic minorities in mountain hamlets. Assistance is offered in the areas of quality control, marketing, and export procedures. The 300 artisans (80% are women) associated with Mai Handcrafts are earning between US $50 and $70 a month in a country where the average monthly income is US $20-30. Traditional Vietnamese dolls, jute mats, silk scarves & purses, and bamboo furniture are their current bestsellers.

Info & photo courtesy A Greater Gift
West Bank
Shepherd's Field Factories
Hani Al-Zougbi, Olivewood Carver

For centuries, Palestinian artisans near Bethlehem have been producing religious items made of olivewood in family-owned workshops. Although men do most of the carving, women often help with the finishing work. The olivewood comes from two sources - the wood of olive trees which have been cut to clear land for agriculture and the pruned branches of olive trees. The lighter, softer wood (which is easier to carve) comes from irrigated trees growing in orchards on the plains; the harder wood with the beautiful grain comes from trees growing on the mountainsides which only receive rainfall in the winter months. The decrease in tourism to the Christian holy sites has had a disastrous impact on the income of the 19 olivewood carvers who work for Shepherd's Field.

Info & photo courtesy A Greater Gift