Past Artisan Grants Recipients

The reports here represent a tiny fraction of the grants given out by the volunteer group at the heart of HETAG in the course of almost 2o years of grant making. For more information email Joanne Heard at

Artisan Fair Trade Network – Nepal (AFTAN)
Kathmandu, Nepal
Craft: Various crafts with bamboo and glass beads
Granted: $1,500 for skills training (World of Good Grant)
The grant was used to buy raw materials, tools and machinery to support a proposed training, including a drill machine; the training included 30 artisans. Excerpts from the report highlight the changes brought about by this support:
“The working efficiency and condition was improved because of the training and machinery purchased. Due to the increased skilled artisans the productivity and production  for bamboo and beaded products did increase. We were able to buy two simple machines to increase the speed of the work. Due to the increased work force the working condition has changed and we have expanded the working area.”

They also note that they have already test marketed products in Korea, as they work to enter the global marketplace, and they expect sales to increase as a result. Also, a small part of the grant was used as a revolving fund, in that proceeds from sales of product made during the training were used to purchase additional raw materials. AFTAN is happy to report that as a result of the ATA grant, “AFTAN has been able to provide income earning opportunity to 30 women and has helped them to produce quality products for export.”

Bouarfa, Morocco
Crafts: Rugs, weaving
$1152.50 Award for Spinning wheel, dyes, equipment
The small grant has allowed the group to have spinning equipment designed and built locally. Traditionally, wool for their carpets is spun by hand-held equipment - like drop spindles and hand-held combs. This is laborious and hard on the spinners' health - especially tendons in the wrists and arms. Together we researched spinning equipment and designed a foot-pedal spinning wheel, wool picker and rolling drum carder that could all be made with local resource. Pictures are attached. The group is learning on the equipment now with plans to host a training in the coming weeks for other wool spinners and weavers in the community. The Moroccan ministry in charge of artisan work caught wind of this project through my community counterpart at the Artisan Agency. They want the group to do equipment training throughout the region. A post-grant report from a volunteer working with touch with the group reads:
We have held one natural dye training and have a second planned for next week. We dyed with materials easily available in Morocco: dried pomegranate shells, leaves from olive trees, onion skins, turmeric, tea leaves, coffee, madder,  chamomile, henna and dried orange peels. The pink-orange color produced by the madder was a hit. We will bring in a trainer from Sefrou to train on dyeing with indigo. Natural dyes are addictive! I have started buying wool from the group and dyeing in my kitchen for some of my own art projects. 

The group attended their first local craft fair on International Women's Day. My site mate, a youth development volunteer, and I co-hosted a conference on IWD 2009 that included a venue for women artisans to display their work. Sadly, the exposition  was poorly attended but the women did not seem to mind. It was good practice in planning for an exposition and learning some customer service skills. Despite attendance, everyone felt it was a day well spent. Photos attached.

Does the grants organization visit groups? Artists' Association of Spinning and Weaving extend a very warm welcome to ATA, should anyone be visiting Morocco in the future. They would love to share their work with the group that has opened up so many opportunities to them.  As we say in Arabic: Marhaba bikum! 

Thanks again for all your support and encouragement. It is my pleasure to witness first hand the difference that the small grants program affords the work and creativity of artisans. Best wishes in your endeavours.

Cooperative Tissage Ain Leuh
Ain Leuh, Morocco
Craft: traditional Berber weavings including carpets, shawls, pillow coverings, and bags
Granted: $1,500 for weaving tools and looms (World of Good Grant)
The artisans report a variety of results from their grant support, including a broader product offering, additional artisans employed, more orders/customers and improved production:
“The new looms, equipment, and supplies that were purchased have enabled the women to expand their product line.  They can now make blankets, shawls and jellaba fabric on the horizontal looms and continue to make rugs on the vertical looms.  The new products enable them to use different materials, such as cactus silk, and to produce products faster and therefore at a different price range, so they can expand their customer base.  were just installed mid-March 2008.  The number of regular weavers increased from 10 to 16.   Also, there are a number of local women weavers, not currently members of the cooperative, who could now participate on a part-time basis, based on the expanded production capacity.”
They also note expanded access to the local market and an increase in the portion of the price that goes to the artisan:
Previous sales were primarily the high-ticket items ,hnbl  carpets, accessible mostly to tourists.  Now there are a number of lesser priced items, l’haik shawls, for example, that are within the price range of local residents, and have been enthusiastically received.  These new items are also marketed in the nearby Azrou Ensemble Artisanal.  The women could not quantify sales before and after but they did say that where they previously paid each weaver 500 dh per square meter, they are now able to give each weaver 700 dh per square meter.
The weavers also plan to introduce natural dyes to their product lines, as a result of this overall expansion. Finally, the report summarizes:
The grant enabled them to by everything they needed to expand their business – looms, weaving combs, yarn and wool.  They have enthusiastically jumped into the process of learning the new looms and of weaving new products.  These women have ambition, skill and imagination and the grant helped them to expand their potential.
The grant underscored that others outside the Region had an understanding and appreciation for the work the women are doing.  They are committed, experienced, excellent weavers making an exquisite, traditional Berber product, which is at risk of disappearing if the women cannot support themselves.  Thank you for your grant and your confidence.