LIVELIHOOD AND ECONOMIC INCLUSION PROJECTS

Project: MADE51 - A new refugee artisan brand

Implementing Agency: UNHCR

The artisanal sector is now the second largest employer in the developing world and presents significant employment opportunities for refugees. MADE51 - implemented in nine countries by UNHCR, the UN Agency for Refugees - offers a potential lifeline to refugee artisans in several countries around the world.

MADE51, standing for Market Access, Design and Empowerment for refugee artisans, is a brand that connects talented refugee artisans with international markets in order to help them sell their unique and authentic hand-made products. UNHCR is scaling up this initiative in order to create a sustainable business model by creating artisanal ‘hubs’ within refugee populations, growing their capacity, and providing seed capital and access to both local and global customer bases. It provides a route through which refugees can supply high-quality and market-ready products to customers worldwide.

For example, in the Mahama refugee camp in Rwanda, the project offers vocational training and basic business education to a group of women artisans. The artisans are retrained in the traditional needle-and-thread skills needed to wrap hand-dyed sisal around bunches of sweet grass, creating tightly coiled, durable, and attractive bags and baskets. A local social enterprise, Indego Africa, helps them ensure that the products are of a high enough quality to be desirable in their own right, both globally and locally.

Andan works in collaboration with MADE51 to provide refugees with a sustainable return to work. The majority of artisans are women, who on average invest 90% of their income into their families, which has a multiplier effect on the wider refugee population.

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