Global Artisans Initiative

Reca, Mary, and Angeline with yarns for Kiondo making – Tharaka-Nithi, Kenya

Over the last three years, the Global Artisans Initiative (GAI) has grown out of long-standing relationships between project leaders and communities in Ecuador, Mexico, Kenya, India, and Nepal. At these sites, leaders seek to empower artisans and their families through the promotion of their handicrafts, which supports community wellbeing and strengthens cultural heritage. GAI brings together the UW-Madison community of students and experts with artisans from around the world in collaborative projects and a horizontal learning exchange. The program was launched in the fall of 2014 with a generous gift from Sue Bakke, a three-year award from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment, support from the Global Health Institute, and additional funding from the Business School, the International Internships Program, and the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program at UW-Madison.


Next Steps

• Expand the number of existing Design Studies courses which host projects to address the needs of our artisan partners. New initiatives are beginning with embroiderers in the village of LaCalara, Ecuador, the basket (kiondo) makers of Kenya, and weavers in Oaxaca, Mexico.

• Recruit interns to meet requests from organizations in Nepal and Mexico. Double recruitment for Summer 2018.

• Fundraise through partnership with Merry-GoStrong to become economically sustainable, increase offerings of funded internships, and support professional development activities for artisan partners.