When we heard about Maria and her group, we couldn't wait to work with them.
Malawi's artisans have centuries-old craft traditions, using natural resources and generations of knowledge. Unfortunately, these traditions are in danger of being lost. As part of the informal economy, artisans are too often underserved, lacking rights, protection and access to credit. However, these people are born entrepreneurs and always find a way to adapt and reinvent themselves despite all odds.
Maria and her team are committed to reviving old craft techniques with creativity and a fresh eye. Through product innovation, international designer collaborations and excellence, they are not only changing perceptions about the value of crafts. They also create a circular value chain that offers fair pay, new perspectives and economic opportunities to artisans through sustainable strategies.
This in turn will preserve their cultural heritage and ensure that indigenous skills are preserved for the next generation.
Each group of artisans receives weeks of intensive training from Maria's team in basic financial skills as well as design and quality control before the actual production begins. They are also provided with interest-free loans to invest in equipment and materials. Through this rigorous training, the women and men are given a concrete hope, tangible through the handicraft work and the well-deserved income they earn from each sale.
Each artisan:in who works with Maria also receives a sketchbook and pencils to encourage creativity. So hopefully we will discover some very talented designers in the future!