The artisan as an engine of economic growth
Small artisans play a big role in many emerging economies. The “artisan economy” has an estimated annual value of $32 billion and is one of the largest employers in the developing world.
But these entrepreneurs, many of whom are women, are often limited by their inability to access financial services such as loans to expand their operations and hire workers.
OPIC has long supported small businesses and entrepreneurs, including artisans, by providing loans to microfinance institutions and other financial intermediaries that provide financial services to underserved populations in developing countries. On September 10 OPIC participated in a forum at the State Department, Celebrating Artisan Enterprise: The New Startup Economy. Mildred Callear, OPIC Vice President for Financial and Portfolio Management, moderated a panel on Bridging the Financing Gap.
The event follows this summer’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya, where President Obama highlighted the importance of women entrepreneurs in the global economy. “Women are powerhouse entrepreneurs. The research shows that when women entrepreneurs succeed they drive economic growth and invest more back into their families and communities,” Obama said.
During Thursday’s event at the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry cited estimates showing that, all together, the world’s artisans represent the fourth largest economy on the planet. “Without empowerment, progress is impossible,” he said. “With empowerment, progress is inevitable.”
Inés Callanaupa (pictured above) is a Peruvian artisan turned entrepreneur who received financing to grow her business through Global Partnerships, an OPIC partner that works with local microfinance institutions in developing countries to provide financial support and training. Callanaupa has used that support to turn her craft of textile weaving into a successful business that enables her to support her family and employ 45 other women.
The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, hosted by the Aspen Institute, was launched by former Secretary Hillary Clinton in 2012, which seeks help artisans around the world reach their full potential.