Mission Statement: To revive the age-old traditional Indian craft of working with animal bone, a material that can be found in abundance in India due to the enormous agricultural industry. In addition to providing jobs with fair wages to the artisans, the product’s life-cycle is 100% environmentally sustainable.
There are three NFP's that I would like to work with. Aid to Artisans (New York), Institute of International Social Development (New York/Kolkata/Geneva/Berlin/Vienna), Dastkar (New Delhi)
I have established contact with IISD, and had a phone interview with the UN representative of the organization. He suggested that I email their contact in India to get more detailed information about the artisans that they work with. The UN representative, Shomik Chaudhuri, was extremely helpful in giving me a detailed understanding of the work of this organization, which is to empower women in slums to support themselves by training them in handicraft skills and introducing them to micro credit, health insurance, life insurance, basic education, healthcare. The organization helps these women connect with buyers so that they can directly sell their products without a middle man. I felt that the organization's goals are similar to mine in terms of helping a group of artisans sustain a living, although I do not think I can cover all the areas that the organization does. I do however hope that I can start small and grow to cover more aspects of their living needs. I have yet to schedule a meeting with Mr. Chaudhuri as I am unsure of further questions I want to ask and also am unsure about what I would brainstorm in a charette...
In terms of Aid to Artisans, I have emailed two different people in the organization but still have not heard back from them. I am planning to call them this week if I do not hear back from them. Also, I have a meeting scheduled for this week with a professor at New School by the name of Jay Dehejia, who was recommended by Edwin Torres who was part of the CARE project in Guatemala. Edwin said that he thinks that Jay Dehejia may have a contact at Aid to Artisans, so I am waiting to speak with him to find out. I am really interested in working with Aid to Artisans as the work of their organization is exactly what I would like to do with my thesis project- to help artisans to develop products that can be sold in an International market and at the same time provide the artisans with fair wages. I want to discuss how they plan a business model and marketing strategies, and also how they determine what fair wages are. I would like to either work directly with Aid to Artisans to produce my designs and sell them, or learn from them so that I can do this on my own.
Dastkar is a non-profit organization in India that works with crafts people to help them sell their products. The organization sets up exhibitions and markets so that the artisans can have a place to sell the products that they make. The organization sometimes sets up workshops to produce specific items ordered by a client. But for the most part, the organization does not interfere with the designs and work of the artisans, but lets them learn on their own what sells by getting exposure to the market and talking directly with the buyers. I would like to work with this organization as they have a huge network of artisans, as well as information about the Indian consumer. While in India this past August, I met with the lady who runs this organization, Laila Tyabji. I have emailed her to ask her for feedback about my thesis project and to see whether I could possibly work with her, but I have still not heard back from her so I am planning to call her this week.
What I am having trouble with is to determine how much involvement these NFP's will have on my thesis... Depending on this I will decide which organization to have a charette with.