By identifying barriers along the entire supply chain, nonprofit group Nest is helping artisans across the globe overcome these hurdles via direct programming to bolster their sales and earnings.
Nest’s end goal is threefold: empower women, alleviate poverty and preserve local cultures.
In its most recent impact report, the organization notes that craft-made goods is a $32 billion industry and is the second-largest employment sector of women in emerging markets. And the work is mostly done in homes. “It is estimated that anywhere from 20 to 60 percent of fashion production happens inside homes — not within the formalized factory setting,” the Nest researchers said in their report.
The organization’s steering committee of retailers and brands includes PVH, West Elm, Eileen Fisher, Patagonia and Jaipur Living, among others.
Through a variety of program designs — from mentorship and marketing to business training and ethical compliance — Nest works with home workers and artisans to address friction points along the supply chain. The result is a 76 percent gain in sales for its participants. Moreover, Nest participants earn, on average, 120 percent more than their national minimum wage. Last year, Nest reached 6,000 artisans with its programs. This year, the organization expects to reach 60,000.
Founded in 2006 by Rebecca van Bergen, the New York-based organization said it expects to reach 170,000 artisans who live in impoverished areas in 2017. The organization stressed that its impact also has a “ripple effect.” For example, Nest participants have an average of eight children or dependents, “which leads to a multiplied impact,” the organizations said, adding that for every “one artisan employed, 20 more people are impacted, including family members and others in the supply chain.”
In regard to helping women learn how to help themselves, Nest researchers said its program “helps to keep women out of forced labor, empowers them to earn economic independence, and allows them to work from home while caring for their children.”
The organization’s programming is based on assessments, which vary market to market. And it operates as a business counselor, which differs from “middlemen” and other for-profit brokers in the market.