November 19, 2022, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan – Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), with the support of the National Commission of Turkmenistan for UNESCO and in partnership with the local consulting company “Orlan”, hosted a final event of the Handmade Exports 2022 (HME) startup incubator program. The event featured a crafts exhibition and a contest among six program finalists who delivered presentations on their new businesses, products, and achievements to a panel of judges.
Visitors to the crafts exhibition had the opportunity to purchase handmade items made by artisans from across Turkmenistan. The event highlighted the success of the HME program in empowering local craftspeople and promoting their traditional skills through global e-commerce marketplaces as sustainable sources of income.
Over the six-month-long program, HME’s 20 participants benefited from the expertise of many talented professionals in product design, social media marketing, copywriting, photography, and digital marketing. The program also provided ample opportunities for networking and collaboration, including with new business partners and online stores in the U.S., the primary target market for Turkmen crafts sellers.
Addressing the fair participants, U.S. Ambassador to Turkmenistan Matthew S. Klimow stated, “I particularly admire the role of the crafts sellers who have not only learned to master the online marketplaces themselves but have also made their online stores available for other crafts makers in Turkmenistan. This does not only create additional economic opportunities for all people involved, but also shows the spirit of solidarity, teamwork, and community building.”
Five program participants received prizes from the organizers and sponsors. Anna Saparova, an artisan who has been designing and sewing handbags with traditional decorations since 2015 won the Grand Prize thanks to her compelling presentation, successful online sales, and genuine passion for her products.
In 2022, USAID supported two rounds of the Handmade Exports incubator program for a total of 42 women entrepreneurs and handicraft makers. The program has shown Turkmen sellers could use international marketplaces such as eBay to market their products.
USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. For more information, visit the USAID/Central Asia website https://www.usaid.gov/central-asia-regional and USAID/Central Asia’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/USAIDCentralAsia.