Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, March 5, 2022 – Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the local company “Orlan”, held the final event of the “Handmade Exports 2021” (HME) startup incubator program. The event featured a crafts exhibition of Turkmenistan’s finest artisans and a competition of ten program finalists, presenting their new businesses, products and progress achieved throughout the HME program to a panel of judges.
Over the 10-month program, HME’s 24 participants underwent 250 hours of rigorous workshops and consultative sessions with dozens of experts, including specialists in product design, online market research, quality product photography, product listings on marketplaces, and digital promotion. The end goal of the program was to get the Turkmen craft merchants listed on eBay and other international marketplaces to expand their market reach and increase international sales.
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. Your creativity and passion have made your masterpieces available to the people in the U.S. and other countries through online services such as eBay, Deliverr, Payoneer, Etsy and others.”
Six program participants received prizes from the organizers and sponsors. Maya Orazmuradova, a lifelong carpet weaver and businesswoman who makes and sells Turkmenistan’s finest handmade carpets, won first place thanks to her sustainable business model, innovative entrepreneurial approach, and excellent presentation skills.
As a result of the “Handmade Export 2021” program, 16 program participants opened their individual eBay stores in November 2021. A total of 190 products worth over $24,000 are listed on eBay and targeted primarily to North American buyers. In addition, 12 of 16 program participants sent a consolidated batch of 105 items from Turkmenistan to Deliverr’s warehouse in the United States in December 2021. This strategic move offers shortened delivery times for end buyers. This action alone allowed the program participants to sell 28 items worth $2,500 within two months to American and international buyers from Canada, Europe and Japan. The opening of an eBay store marks the first international business transaction for most of these craftspeople, who are primarily women.
USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. For more information, please visit: https://www.usaid.gov/central-asia-regional.