NOVICA brings artisans from developing countries to global markets
The International Trade Centre recognizes that ‘Partnerships4Purpose’ can contribute to impactful projects and sustainable outcomes. To celebrate the teamwork behind these efforts, ITC is proud to highlight game-changing initiatives that are made possible through strong and meaningful collaboration.
When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in 2020, many entrepreneurs were not ready to sell online. The global crisis greatly digitized the international consumer market, affecting many artisans in developing countries who have limited access to a stable internet connection, technology or e-commerce support.
Although the pandemic brought many handmade businesses to a standstill, a Powered by People stated that the overall long-term growth outlook for the handicraft industry is very positive. The report suggests that the industry is set to grow by 20% per year, reaching $1 trillion by 2024.
The sector's workforce, which is dominated by women, youth and rural populations, and which is one of the world's largest but among the poorest, is typically characterized by a lack of investment, digitization, access to finance and to global markets.
NOVICA: The impact marketplace for artisans
Through its work with artisans in Central America, the International Trade Centre (ITC) acknowledged that, by the time the crisis hit, many small business owners did not have enough skills or resources to manage a digital store next to producing handicrafts and taking care of their families.
Digitization and better connections to global supply chains is key to the survival of this vulnerable work force as well as preserving important national craftmanship. The ecomConnect programme with its capacity building for small businesses provides artisans with the skills and tools to sell through online channels. Through NOVICA, ITC can provide even more opportunities to marginalized artisans who need further assistance to tackle the needs of online selling.
By combining ITC’s core work on small businesses with the product-based training and support offered by NOVICA, this partnership ensures that the makers of unique, sustainable products earn a decent living to support their families and communities. According to NOVICA, to date the marketplace has generated almost $121 million for artisans worldwide.
The unique approach: Preserving culture through global trade
NOVICA is the world's largest online marketplace for artisan-handcrafted items worldwide. With over 100,000 handcrafted products sold globally, its mission is to empower artisans and preserve their craft through e-commerce.
By providing detailed information and stories about each artisan, NOVICA cuts out middlemen and establishes direct, global connections that support entrepreneurs and small businesses, and that encourages buyers to choose the cause they’d like to support, such as women empowerment.
Having B Corp status, NOVICA meets the highest standards of social and environmental impact. Moreover, the marketplace helps artisans photograph and prep their work for online sales, while managing direct-to-consumer international shipping and returns, thus allowing artisans to focus on producing their handicrafts.
Moving forward: An inclusive partnership
Supporting the partnership with ITC, the marketplace includes a dedicated page for artisans participating in ITC projects, through which 10% of the sales are invested in supporting these artisans.
NOVICA also granted these companies preferential access to its micro-credit programme KIVA. Through this programme, artisans featured on NOVICA receive small, zero-interest loans to support their work, which includes women artisans from rural communities.
Through this collaboration, ITC is already helping hundreds of enterprises in Central America and is developing more opportunities for businesses in Central Asia, and eventually Africa to onboard the marketplace and sell their handicrafts to international markets.