5by20 Featured Artisans5by20 Artisan - Empowering millions, one woman at a time

Acacia Creations

5by20 Artisan - Acacia CreationsFounded in 2007, Acacia Creations sells eco-friendly jewelry, home products, and gifts made in their Nairobi, Kenya studio. The organization works directly with hundreds of craftsmen from East Africa, as well as from Thailand, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines, with the goal of improving lives in a long-lasting and sustainable way.

Acacia goes beyond Fair Trade by creating jobs, providing training, and giving back to the community through education and healthcare initiatives. Also, because all of their items are made from reclaimed and recycled materials, the more Acacia sells, the more is kept from landfills.

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5by20 Artisan - ColetivoSince starting in 2009, Coletivo Coca-Cola, a social technology operated by Instituto Coca-Cola Brazil, has reached out to 300 waste collection cooperatives and 150 communities across the country, with the goal of providing specialized training and a consistent source of income. Targeting young adults and those living in low-income areas, the initiative spans five key aspects along Coca-Cola's pipeline: logistics and production, entrepreneurship, retail, recycling, and the arts. Thus far, 30 percent of its 25,000 graduates have found work within a six-month time frame through Coletivo's participating retail customers.

Out of three programs, the Coletivo Artisan Entrepreneurship, also known as Coletivo Artes, strives to empower and provide a greater, more stable source of income to women producers, who receive training in product design, management, and entrepreneurship. In applying these skills, each group of artisans develops a line of handbags, jewelry, art, and other crafts, all constructed out of recycled Coca-Cola products.

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Çöp Madam

5by20 Artisan - Çöp MadamQuestioning what is worth saving, çöp(m)adam started as an experimental project in Western Turkey, addressing the issues of women's employment and the importance of recycling/reusing, with an aim to utilize waste in a creative, aesthetic, and unique way. The result, çöp(m)adam, a group of 70 artisans, many women who have never earned a living, are transforming "trash" into eco-chic accessories.

With its name a play on words to mean "garbage ladies," çöp(m)adam started collaborating with Unilever Turkey to spur its initiatives, including reducing waste and improving opportunities for women. Only 27 percent of all plastic gets recycled in Turkey, while just one-quarter of all women have steady work.

In line with both companies' objectives, these bags made out of reused wrappers meet multiple goals: one, they present a quality fashion accessory without exploiting workers or straining environmental resources, and two, they provide Turkish women with regular Fair Trade jobs in clean and safe conditions. All çöp(m)adam bags sold are completely original and include the artisan's signature.

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Elvis & Kresse

5by20 Artisan - Elvis & KresseElvis & Kresse create stunning lifestyle accessories by re-engineering seemingly useless waste materials.

The innovative and pioneering Fire-Hose range is made exclusively from genuine decommissioned British fire brigade hoses, which, after a distinguished career fighting fires and saving lives, were otherwise destined for a landfill.

Since 2005, this U.K.-based brand has incorporated reclaimed materials into its line of bags, belts, and wallets, using the kintsugi philosophy ? the Japanese method of fixing broken pottery with gold. Once the fire hoses were scrubbed of grease and soot, these designers realized they found a truly green and durable textile, and since then, the brand has expanded to working with 10 repurposed materials. So far, 200 long tons (224 U.S. tons) have been saved.

With this approach, Elvis & Kresse work toward a goal in which no material is wasted ? reused instead of ending up in the garbage. As well, the process is cyclical, and 50 percent of their profits goes toward projects and charities related to these reclaimed supplies.

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5by20 Artisan - Mitz"Mitz" (a Nahuatl word that means "For you") is a women's cooperative located in Palo Solo, a small community of 5,000 embedded on a hillside in the municipality of Huixquilucan and characterized by high levels of poverty and marginalization.

Since 2003, Mitz has operated with three goals in mind: to expand job opportunities, award 10,000 education scholarships by 2017, and reduce waste through sustainable development. The result is Fair Trade work, of weaving intricate, colorful bags and wallets out of candy wrappers, to artisans living in communities on the outskirts of Mexico City. The bags sold under the Mitz brand keep trash from accumulating in landfills, and thus far, this approach has recycled 100 tons of waste.

In response, the organization has been able to award 3,000 scholarships to the Palo Solo Children's House, one of Mexico's few Montessori schools for educating impoverished children. Operating since 1979, the school offers preschool and primary school programs, in addition to education services for teens and adults.

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Philippine Community Fund

5by20 Artisan - Philippine Community FundThe Philippine Community Fund (PCF) strives to improve the living conditions of some of the poorest of the urban poor and create opportunity through sustainable income generation. By bringing together the recyclable materials found in the garbage dumps of Manila and the limitless potential of the women within these impoverished communities, they are able to increase daily incomes, acquire robust and transferable vocational skills, and reduce the mountains of trash.

Beginning in the U.K. in 2002, PCF focuses its programs on the country's most depressed areas, including the shanty towns near trash dumps. Here, adults and children often make a living by searching for reusable rubbish and have few educational and advancement opportunities.

The organization sets up schools, food solutions, and healthcare programs for rescuing child workers from a life of picking trash, and offers skills, training, and livelihood programs to adults. With its efforts, PCF aims to provide all families with a life free from poverty's harmful effects.

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5by20 Artisan - UPAVIMUPAVIM Crafts is a cooperative of approximately 80 women who live in marginalized communities on the outskirts of Guatemala City. Many of the women are the sole providers of economic support for their families.

The challenges for these artisans in Guatemala City are numerous...including illiteracy, unemployment, malnutrition, and the lack of sufficient education for children. Yet, in spite of these obstacles, the community where UPAVIM is located is named La Esperanza (Hope). The women of UPAVIM have kept their hope alive.

UPAVIM began in 1988 with the goal of empowering and improving the quality of life for women and their families in these communities. Through a partnership with a Sister Parish in Bemidji, Minn., they started with a Growth Monitoring program. Out of a need to generate income and funds, the crafts program emerged.

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