Artisan and Fox
The social enterprise seeking to empower the artisan sector in the developing world
Connecting discerning global buyers to quality, hand-crafted goods made by talented artisans in developing countries.
Artisan & Fox, a relatively new business, was launched in October 2015 by co-founders Jaron Soh and Weighing Kan (both currently 2nd year undergraduates). Having originally met at school, Jaron, (London School of Economics) was reunited with Weichong, (Nanyang Business School in Singapore), in 2015 when he returned to Singapore and pitched the idea to him.
Jaron claimed the inspiration originated back to his youth, where he was fortunate enough to travel from a young age and immediately fell in love with experiencing new destinations and cultures, whether to rural places or developed cities.
However, it wasn't until 2015 when the idea to connect rural makers to the global market occurred, after spending almost two years leading a mentoring programme with London-based charity, Eaves. The charity aims to empower women in vulnerable circumstances by helping them to bring their handmade products online through one to one mentoring. Shortly after, Jaron made the connection that there might be more makers in the developing world who could also benefit from access to the online market. Although rural handicrafts have been available online for years, the existing enterprises predominantly partner with large-scale cooperatives, where Artisan and Fox target the independent artisans and micro-enterprises.
The artisan sector is the 2nd largest employer in developing countries, just below agriculture. This demonstrates the importance of this sector in alleviating the underprivileged makers and highlights the potential for furthering global economic development.
Personalised artisan profiles are created for each artisan or artisan group on their website, to promote cultural sharing and provide a socially conscious experience for global customers. Each profile includes a succinct, yet intriguing writeup of the artisan's background, their craftsmanship process as well as their future aspirations. Jaron and Weichong believe in the power of positive stories and seek to deliver the focus on the artisans’ aspirations for the future rather than thrive on sympathy.
Artisans receive between 45% to 55% of the profits made from the sale of each item (after logistical and handling costs), ensuring that the makers are fairly remunerated for their beautiful craft and simplifying the process for global consumers to purchase responsibly.
Despite only launching at the end of last year with their pilot artisans in Nepal, they have big ambitions to expand into 2 other countries: India and Zambia by end of Summer 2016, and also onboard artisans from Morocco and/or Panama by end of 2016.
The above article by Erin Orford first published on coinsfoundation.org in 2016.