October 2, 2023, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan – On September 30, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Delegation of the European Union to Turkmenistan, with the support of the National Commission of Turkmenistan for UNESCO held the final event of the “Lebap Handmade Exports” (Lebap HME) business incubator program. The event featured a crafts exhibition of Turkmenistan’s finest artisans and a competition of nine program finalists, presenting their new businesses, products and progress achieved throughout the Lebap HME program to a panel of judges.
The goal of the Lebap HME program is to showcase Turkmen handicrafts on eBay and other international trading platforms to expand market reach and increase international sales. Over the course of six months, the program has empowered 20 local artisans from the Lebap region with valuable skills in areas such as product design, social media marketing, copywriting, photography, and digital marketing. The program also provided opportunities for networking and collaboration, including with new business partners and online stores based in the United States – a key market for Turkmen handicrafts.
Addressing over 100 event participants, U.S. Ambassador to Turkmenistan Matthew S. Klimow stated, “In an era when digital transformation is shaping every economic and social sector, it is particularly exciting to see that these new technologies have reached the crafts trade which is typically known for being traditional and tied to a specific geographical location”. Additionally, the Ambassador commended all artisans for their creativity and passion, making their masterpieces available to people worldwide through such innovative solutions as eBay, Deliverr, Payoneer, Etsy, and others.
Three program participants received prizes from the organizers and sponsors in an awards ceremony. Maysa Ovezova, founder of the Hunarly online marketplace, won first place thanks to her impressive business growth and operational achievements over the program duration. Ms. Ovezova demonstrated strong sales traction, having sold 40 products for a total of 47,700 TMT from May to September 2023.
Launched in April 2023 in Turkmenabat, Lebap region, the Lebap HME program is a joint venture between USAID’s FGI Project and the European Union Delegation to Turkmenistan. The program also received crucial support from the Turkmenistan National Commission for UNESCO.
USAID is the leading American government agency building social and economic prosperity together with the people of Central Asia.