Sprouting Artisan Enterprises

Friends of Tilonia, Inc, through its Sprout Enterprise® initiative, focuses on building a network of artisans, designers and entrepreneurs, and creating sustainable livelihoods for rural communities with few economic alternatives in developing countries.


The artisan sector is the second-largest employer in the developing world. Globally, it is a significant and growing sector, accounting for over $32 billion in international trade annually. Friends of Tilonia is a Brooklyn-based, non-profit organization working in this sector since 2000. Their Sprout Enterprise® initiative helps to build the business capacity and entrepreneurial skills of artisan enterprises in rural India, Mexico and Cambodia. They partner with more than 14 artisan enterprises, drawing on the rich cultural heritage of the rural communities in which they work and utilizing indigenous skills and materials to craft their artisan collections. This creates employment and economic opportunities for more than 2500 artisans and their families. The initiative also introduces these enterprises to new markets, including the U.S., provides ongoing support to ensure their success and sustainability and helps build business relationships for the sale of their handcrafted products.

 Their goal is to enable these artisans to earn much more than the bare minimum – and to develop the economic basis to live in dignity, free from hunger and extreme poverty.


The Barefoot College

Sprout Enterprise®, working in 
conjunction with their first partner, the Barefoot College in rural India, developed Tilonia.com for the sale of handcrafted 
bedding, accessories and gift products. These goods are produced by nearly 800 artisans in 
villages where the College and its affiliates work.

 Sprout Enterprise® then trained e-commerce managers from the College to operate the online store and sustain the web-based enterprise. With the additional revenue generated through online sales, these managers now run a financially self-sustaining artisan enterprise. All of the enterprise managers, as well as the artisans, are from villages in rural Rajasthan.


Rabha Women Weavers

Last year, Sprout Enterprise® partnered with the Foundation for Rural Recovery and Development, (FORRAD), a support organization for smaller grass root groups working in the field of rural development; and Hast Karigar Society (HKS), a membership based organization of traditional artisans, weavers and folk painters in India. Together, they provided seed funding to enable women forest dwellers in rural India to use their traditional weaving skills to earn a livelihood. Sixteen Rabha women weavers from the Buxa forest region of West Bengal, India, are now receiving training and support for the development and operation of a weavers’ association.  
With marketing support and access to urban markets, the introduction of contemporary designs, a 9-months basic business training course and the addition of a local production coordinator, the weavers’ association has been able to purchase looms and yarn for initial production and is producing a handwoven textile collection for sale in urban markets. During training, the women earned stipends. Now, however, sales of textiles woven by the women weavers fund the continued development of the organization as well as provide training for additional women weavers.


Sprout Enterprise® is offering a 25% discount to SEA readers with coupon code SEA25.

Discount is good for all orders of $50 or more.

Shop now at www.SproutEnterprise.net and www.Tilonia.com.


To learn more about Friends of Tilonia and Sprout Enterprise®, visit their SEA member profile and website.

To learn more about Friends of Tilonia, Inc., check out their member directory profile.

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