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The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, founded in November 2012 and hosted by the Aspen Institute, is a collaborative effort of over 70 artisan businesses, artisan support organizations, corporations, government agencies, and other partners who are working together to promote the full potential of the global artisan sector.  

The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise was created to elevate the importance of the artisan sector, support and grow artisan businesses, and share best practices in a collaborative learning community. 


International Folk Art Market Artists Consider Credit-Readiness

Gina Rogari

This July, the International Folk Art Alliance (IFAA), partners, and friends celebrated the 13th annual International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Over 180 artists and thousands of guests from around the world gathered on Museum Hill for the largest market in the organization's history. Gahaya Links shared its handwoven peace baskets, Kandahar Treasure unveiled new embroidered scarves and robes, and ROOTS of South Sudan received the Market's Community Impact Reward, honoring artists who are an extraordinary example of the IFAA mission by positively impacting social change in their communities.

The IFAA team celebrates and preserves living folk art traditions and creates economic opportunities for and with artists worldwide, impacting artists' lives beyond one weekend of sales. The weeks leading up to the annual market include workshops, activities, and other opportunities for artists to learn and build sustainable relationships with the IFAA team and with one another. Part of this year's programming included a full day of technical workshops. The Alliance joined artists from around the world in a workshop on the Alliance-Kiva Artisan Loan Program, "Am I Ready for an Artisan Business Loan?" 

Participants examined their yearly sales and expenses and determined how a loan could benefit their businesses. Artists from Mexico and Bolivia to Kyrgyzstan agreed their main business goals included maintaining craft traditions for the next generation. Succeeding in today's market ensures the viability of those traditions, and increases the desire for young people to learn traditional crafts and carry on family businesses.

To create a sustainable business, however, artists often lack capital and other financial resources to grow their product lines, client bases, and marketing materials. Artists explored the possibility of using a small loan to cover market fees (like their International Folk Art Market booths), raw material costs, and even hiring additional artisan workers. Still, artists around the world face unique barriers: uneven payment cycles, high raw material and shipping costs, and more. 

The Alliance-Kiva Artisan Loan Program allows Alliance members and partners to access 0% financing to succeed in today's market. Without capital, artists often work order-to-order, nurturing fragile businesses and lacking the skills and training to grow. Are you ready for an artisan business loan? Contact the Alliance team at to learn more about the resources available for the businesses in our network, or to think about the requirements for an artisan business loan. 

Miss this year's celebration? Mark your calendar for next year's market, July 14-17, 2017. Alliance members and artists - it's not too late to apply! Complete an online application by September 1, 2016 for the 2017 market. For the first time ever, the selection criteria includes innovation in traditional product design. Questions? Contact today.