Monday, December 28, 2009
Nest fair trade products promises to change the world
In three days, we will usher in a new year with hope for peace and prosperity. And for one fair trade organization, it continues its pledge to change the world one product at a time.
Build a Nest founder and executive director Rebecca Kousky has a simple vision for the future: empower artisans to rebuild their lives and communities.
Kousky offers "microbarting", a process she created that advances interest-free loans for materials, manufacturing space, and personal income in exchange for products that are sold through Nest's Web site and selected retail outlets. Products include jewelry, clothing, and home décor accessories.
"We wanted to provide a full transformative process," Kousky said. "It is everything from education to product development to sustained income."
Nest relies on in-country partners to assist the artisans in managing their microloans. Local non-governmental organizations and Peace Corps volunteers ensure delivery of training, receipt of loan, and supplies purchased.
The loan recipients are primarily women from a handful of developing countries who face economic hardship. Their status also prevents many from an education and business opportunities. Loan recipients Regina Kubiru and Elena Felipe Felix are worlds apart but bonded by their art. Kubiru, a 41-year-old Tanzanian seamstress, sells her dresses and traditional African baskets with the dream of owning a store. In Mexico, Felipe Felix draws upon her family craft of pottery making to create bowls worthy of a museum exhibit. The delicate designs and bright colors are signature traits of Mexican artistry.
The artisan relationship extends to a contingent of independent U.S. artisans who contribute their wares with proceeds supporting funds for additional artisans. They engage in a cultural exchange themselves by mentoring the established artisans cultivating a community of artists worldwide.
Nest comprises five employees and an advisory board in 12 U.S. cities, including Washington, DC. All contribute to the promotion of the company and its mission to enhance the lives of its participating artisans.
"We definitely want to grow in number of artisans we promote," Kousky says. "And in doing so, we get to preserve traditional craftsmanship and ensure sustainable livelihoods."
Image: Courtesy of Build A Nest
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