A tool to empower traditional artisans

Did you know?

Despite being the second largest source of income after agriculture in low income countries, the craft sector receives only 0.3% of all impact investing.

This was revealed by a report of the Global Impact Investing Network. On the other hand, global retail chains are increasingly developing long-term relationships with social enterprises, sourcing a wide range of goods from food to handicrafts: carved wooden bowls, silver jewellery, woven carpets, traditional oak stools, embroidered blouses made of traditional fabrics … Two main trends have led to this development: growing customer interest in “authentic” products on the one hand, and on the other, big retail companies deciding to increase transparency of production, sustainability and social responsibility. But although demand is growing, particularly from retail groups in the US and Europe, small-scale artisans, often belonging to communities threatened by poverty, lack the skills they need to engage in retail cooperation. This factor holds them back from taking advantage of this market opportunity.

What can we do?

Why not simply develop a roadmap that links small handicraft enterprises with larger companies?

 co/rizom is developing this process. It is designed to bring traditional crafts to a wider market and ensure their long-term sustainability. This methodology enables artisans from vulnerable communities – grouped into small social enterprises – to become reliable and trusted suppliers of major retailers. It also ensures their financial stability, giving them a solid basis for financial independence.

“Handmade by skilled craftspeople, making each one unique.”

More than 50 artisans are currently participating in the project. Creating the co/rizom roadmap involves adjusting tested social enterprise and product development procedures and adapting basic marketing and branding practices for inclusion in an open source tool kit that will facilitate replication of the approach at scale.

Why are we doing this? ​

Because traditional crafts can only survive if artisans are empowered and supported.

Traditional crafts can only survive if artisans are empowered and supported. The project thus helps to preserve traditional handicrafts. Vulnerable communities must be enabled to move from their peripheral position into the mainstream of society so they too can benefit from the general prosperity. We must build and maintain communities and collective resilience in the financial and social sectors. Everyone is entitled to an equal and secure place in society. With our projects we aim to achieve sustainable economic development for disadvantaged groups and communities, and thus help provide people with new perspectives for a dignified life – based on their own skills and competencies.

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The largest management capacity-building programme for civil society organisations in Central and Eastern Europe

Florian Bauer

Director Social Finance, Sustainability and Innovation
Since 2023, Florian Bauer has been responsible for social finance, sustainability and social innovation at ERSTE Foundation. Prior to this role, Florian worked in the NGO & Social Entrepreneurship sector for more than 13 years. He led the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral NGO that works to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy efficient systems in developing countries, and was Managing Director & COO of the Impact Hub Vienna. From 2020-2023, Florian established strategic alliances with key partners and helped to create innovative semantic technology solutions at Semantic Web Company (SWC), a leading IT company in semantic AI solutions.