Calling All Artisans and Makers: Join the Global Campaign for the Artisan Sector

At last year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Morocco, someone asked why more wasn’t being done to promote artisan businesses. That’s a good question. Artisan activity is often the second largest employer in developing countries, and the artisan market generates around $34 billion a year.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the developing world participate in the artisan sector, and many of them are women. This sector not only creates livelihoods for communities globally. It also preserves a society’s cultural heritage and uniqueness that we cherish.

Yet the artisan sector’s potential is often ignored or overlooked. That’s why earlier today, at the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit Youth + Women Event, I announced the launch of the Artisan Enterprise Multimedia Competition, an exciting new campaign that will engage artisans, artists, and supporters to tell the story of artisans. 

The campaign is courtesy of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, a global partnership between more than 60 organizations, corporations, and individuals, including the State Department and the Aspen Institute. The Alliance works to promote, connect, and expand opportunities for the artisan sector. These efforts open doors for artisans every day.

Through the Alliance, partners are working to revive a 500 year-old silk-weaving tradition in India. Women in Rwanda are studying customer care, inventory, pricing and product participation. And artisans around the world have gained access to the largest U.S. gift and home décor trade show, where they can sell their goods and connect with buyers from global markets.

This September, the Alliance will launch a global campaign to tell the story of artisans, and this multimedia competition is an opportunity for people around the world to be a part of it. We’re calling on artisans, artists, and supporters from around the world to submit photos, videos, mural designs, and essays that capture the creative beauty and economic impact of the sector.

Finalists will win a trip to the Alliance’s campaign launch in Washington this fall, and the winner will receive a $1,500 cash prize, along with the chance to have their work globally recognized. The deadline to apply is August 10.

This is an opportunity to tell the story of artisans and to broaden the support for what is truly a thriving start-up economy. To learn more and apply, go to

About the Author: Catherine Russell serves as the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State.  Follow @AmbCathyRussell on Twitter.

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This blog entry originally appeared on the U.S. Department of State's DipNote blog.