Support for Artisan Businesses and their Communities

As the world responds to the economic and societal impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the months ahead, Turquoise Mountain’s work with vulnerable artisan communities has never been more urgent. While governments and citizens across the world are fighting the pandemic domestically, the global community must come together to support parts of the world least able to handle this crisis.

We are launching this $200,000 Covid-19 Response Fund to support artisan craft production across our country programmes.

Our artisan programmes already support thousands of craftswomen and men from Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Middle East, securing viable incomes despite economic challenges, to support their families and their continued practice of craft. The fund will support:

- Developing and expanding our online technical resources, including how-to videos of certain techniques, and training modules can take place from home, as well as online conferencing with industry, design and technical experts for artisans, with translation function.

- Crucial in-country roles focused on production, quality control, and logistics. Including a dedicated resource to identify alternatives for critical materials, tools, equipment where usual supply chains falter temporarily or permanently.

- Developing and expanding our remote methods of production oversight, to continue high quality of production whilst allowing for periods of lockdown. In addition, providing product photography equipment and training to allow artisans to carry out some of these functions that would have been done centrally.

- Updating health & safety guidance that we usually provide artisans for their workshops with current best practice relating to Covid-19, social distancing, and how to work safely as a team in workshop, as well as distributing personal protective equipment to artisans where needed.

Caption The first calligraphy class at the Institute in 2019 Credit Turquoise Mountain

Turquoise Mountain’s programmes already provide crucial support to artisans in many of these ways:

- Artisans often create products from home or within local communities, whilst retaining quality and rigour of production.

- We have always aimed to provide remote support to artisans wherever possible, through virtual trainings and bespoke artisan toolkits for each craft, and we will continue to do so as in-person interaction remains difficult.

- In addition to a wide range of existing online resources for training, business tools and product development, given the remote areas in which we operate, we have experience in quality control and other processes through remote and online communications (for example, WhatsApp videos and photos that can be maintained through lock-down).

- We have always encouraged the use of local materials, a further advantage during periods of isolation.

- We have always looked beyond usual commercial routes to market – emphasising the exceptional work of artisans, and the humanity and heritage of our products – as a single product commission can support a workshop for weeks or months.

Across our programmes, engagement with the arts will continue to provide a much-needed source of inspiration and comfort for artisans and their communities in the most difficult times.


Collaborator Case Study: Turquoise Mountain works with leading designers and retailers to bring economic opportunities to artisans – most recently through a commission for Jo Malone, for which artisans from Syria, Jordan, and Myanmar all collaborated on custom-designed boxes and ornaments for the leading retailer. Jo Malone are a key partner and collaborator - they have not only brought significant return to artisans through their orders, but also believe passionately in craftsmanship and supporting makers through their wider messaging and campaigns.

With your support, Turquoise Mountain hopes to lead the response for these communities as the global economy continues to shift unpredictably in the coming months. Agility and flexibility are in our DNA – we are built to respond not just to risk but also to high levels of uncertainty. We work hard to ensure we are more than just an organisation – we are a community and a family.

Please join us in this effort to provide crucial support to vulnerable communities, at a critical time.

We know that resources will be stretched across many important causes in the months ahead – even a modest contribution can have a massive impact in these vulnerable communities.

To contribute, donate via our website or email