Tag Archives: artisan spotlight

March Artist Spotlight

Allpa Cooperative of Peru | In the Spotlight

Allpa ArtisanAllpa is named for a Quechua Indian word that means “EARTH.” Allpa is a Peruvian craft trading company providing marketing assistance to artisan groups and family workshops throughout Peru. Allpa provides technical help, product development advice, skills training, tools and appropriate equipment to Peruvian artisans. Artisans can also access short-term and mid-term loans to improve infrastructure and their workshops.

Community Impact
The idea of Allpa was created in 1982 by a group of economists, anthropologists, and sociologists from the Universidad Catolica of Lima as a way to improve living standards of handicraft producers. Allpa began active work as an alternative trading organization in 1986. Today, Allpa’s marketing assistance reaches approximately 2,000 families from 100 artisan groups and family workshops throughout Cusco, Ayacucho, Chulucanas, Cajamarca and Huancavelica as well as Shipibo people living in the Amazon rainforest area of Pucalepa, Peru.Allpa Weavers

Allpa has provided a great source of hope to these families, for most, craft production is their sole source of income. By working with Allpa, artisans have access to the tools needed for product development, and with better equipment can produce larger orders for export. Cream Alpaca ThrowThe cooperative organizes orders for over 100 artisan groups, facilitates fulfillment and artisan payment, and designates a portion of the profits to help provide artisans with short-term loans and invest community development projects that benefit all member villages.

Seven Hopes United purchases beautiful Alpaca Throws from Allpa, that have become a customer favorite, and a popular Fair Trade Gift Registry item for couples getting married.

February Artist Spotlight

Wolof Weavers of Senegal | In the Spotlight

Wolof WeaverWolof Basket Weaving
This coil style of basket weaving has been practiced in Senegal for generations, and Wolof girls learn weaving techniques from their mothers and aunts. Traditionally, Wolof women crafted baskets by binding njodax, a thick local grass, with thin strips of palm frond. Palm fronds were difficult to work with and very hard on the hands of the weavers, so about 20 years ago an anonymous creative party introduced large needles and strips of plastic purchased from a prayer mat factory in Dakar. This simple change in material dramatically reduced discomfort during the weaving process. Today’s Wolof baskets reflect this merger of traditional crafting techniques with contemporary materials.

Among the Wolof, basket weaving is specifically a woman’s craft. In many rural villages across Senegal, the men of the family must work in major cities or abroad, and send back money to the family. In some cases, this income alone is not enough to fully meet the family’s needs, so the women of the family supplement that income by weaving baskets.

White Wolof Prayer Mat BasketWolof women work basket weaving into their day between other household duties. International Fair Trade orders are welcome, as baskets otherwise have to be sold locally, where inconsistent profits are further reduced by the time and cost of transporting even just a few baskets to the local market.

The International Fair Trade Market
The Fair Trade market expands each rural woman’s reach into the world market far further than her feet could ever carry her. We seek thriving, long-term relationships with African artisans, as consistent orders increase stability in families and communities.

Wolof African Bread BasketThe Jan/Feb 2010 issue of ELLE Decor featured Wolof Baskets in a highly coveted What’s Hot layout. There’s a beautiful image of two Wolof baskets nestled in the pages of every magazine distributed, a gracious gift to the growing community of Wolof weavers.

Community Impact
Across Africa, artisan cooperatives provide a safety net for individual crafters. By working together, artisans can produce larger orders for export, better negotiate and stabilize pricing and apply proceeds generated to projects that benefit members.

Our partner works in cooperation with the Cooperative “And Suxali Sunu Gokh.” In Wolof, the name means work together to make our villages flourish. The cooperative organizes orders for craftspeople in 26 rural Senegalese villages, facilitates fulfillment and artisan payment and helps apply a portion of profits to education, reforestation and community betterment projects that benefit all member villages.