Two weeks ago, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored a trip for a number of fair trade organizations to Pakistan to spur economic and artisan development. Cecilia Foxworthy – GGP’s Director of Operations and Marketing for about the last 3 years—participated in the trip and went to Pakistan on behalf of Global Goods Partners. She met with numerous artisan groups on-site and at an organized art show. Upon her return to the office, Global Goods Partners welcomed two new groups as full partners!
Here are some snippets from our conversation regarding Cecilia’s trip to Pakistan:
What was the biggest draw to go to Pakistan?
In accordance with USAID’s objective for this trip, Global Goods Partners is looking to work more with artisans in conflict zones. This was a great opportunity to vet the types of businesses in Pakistan and bring on new artisan partners.
Describe the groups you met in Pakistan.
We met with twenty-five groups exhibiting at the organized art show. From those twenty-five, two groups met GGP’s criteria. On-site visits followed after the art show. I met these two groups, each with about 800 women artisans, and was immediately taken aback by their professionalism. They built their domestic presence before venturing into the international market; they are now quite established in Pakistan. Additionally, they are very well-informed and familiar with the U.S. consumer; as a result, they produce quality products.
These two groups participated in USAID’s training program—“Implemented by Entrepreneurs.” It is clear that this training program is effective. Both organizations are run by dynamic business women who are committed to a socially responsible business structure. These leaders had taken their own initiative to receive their advanced degrees to then work with artisan partners.
How would you describe the products in Pakistan?
There are so many different regions in Pakistan and each region is an expert in producing its own unique craft. The breadth of artistry in Pakistan is unbelievable. They are especially masters of wood etching, block printing, and traditional weaving. Due to the demand in the U.S., many artisans in Pakistan have started to utilize recycled materials for their products.
Are there any other memorable aspects from the trip?
There was a buyer roundtable with the artisans that gave the artisans a chance to ask a question to all the organizations included on this trip. Collectively, the organizations (or buyers) provided feedback about the U.S. market and consumer; this was really helpful for the artisans who may not have a full understanding of the American market. The dialogue opened up and continued to cover a lot of different aspects. This event fostered a great understanding between the two parties and facilitated a wonderful business relationship.
At one point, the media said “It’s great to see U.S. business women show the rest of the world to do business in Pakistan and they can handle it.”
These artisans can definitely handle it.