In 2012, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, in which 64 non-profit organizations, for-profit corporations and philanthropists joined together to empower artisans around the world with small loans. The mission of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise is to strengthen the international artisan sector by alleviating systemic barriers to entry to the international marketplace, such as inadequate access to funding capital (this mission directly mirrors our own here at Global Women Artisans). The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise envisions that the U.S. Department of State will partner with Kiva Microfunds, a non-profit organization that facilitates online loans made to low-income entrepreneurs and students in some of the world’s poorest countries. Together, the U.S. Department of State and Kiva Microfunds will facilitate small-loan financing to artisan businesses in over 20 countries.
This financing is positioned to significantly and beneficially impact women artisans around the globe. The director of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, Peggy Clark, noted that there is currently much “untapped potential for global development in the artisan sector, especially as we focus on women and girls. Now is the moment.” Specifically, this financing could offer women the chance to overcome certain barriers to entry into the international marketplace by enabling women to afford superior and additional materials necessary to make and market their goods, and to serve a larger clientele. In discussing the impact that this financing has on women artisans, Carlos Pierre, the Manager of Strategic Initiatives at Kiva, noted that artisans shouldn’t “have to imagine what a better life could be like,” but instead that they might “actually experience it.”