On April 8-9, the United States, through its Agency for International Development (USAID) hosted a two-day webinar: ‘Women in Crafts: Opportunities for Connectivity and Digital Trade’ for women artisans and handicraft producers across Afghanistan and Central Asia to better understand market demand, identify new markets, and improve product quality. This training was held as part of USAID’s Competitiveness, Trade and Jobs activity and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Over 100 participants from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan attended including female artisans and handicraft producers, representatives from business women associations, non-governmental organizations, e-commerce platforms, and the Afghan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries. The learning event blended cultural heritage and traditions in making national apparel, carpets, and handicrafts with modern marketing knowledge, e-trade connectivity, and online sales platforms. It also included U.S. artisans experienced in business to consumer and business-to-business marketplaces.
Speaking at the webinar, Lola Sayfi, Founder and CEO of Human House Gallery from Uzbekistan, that has helped to promote handicrafts of over 200 artesian from across the country for the past 20 years noted, “We are actively exploring new opportunities for promoting our craft and stand ready to cooperate as representatives of all artisans with whom we partner to find solutions during these challenging circumstances.”
USAID will develop an e-catalog to broaden awareness of distinctive handmade products from Central Asia and Afghanistan. It will expand market access through new business models and e- platforms, and preserve local traditions, improve product quality, and reduce the environmental impact through innovative technologies. Collectively, these efforts will contribute to the long- term economic sustainability of women artisans in the region.