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The Nest Artisan Advancement Project: Visibility, Viability and Value for Global Artisan Businesses

A cross-sector initiative to create reliable assessment and remediation tools for artisan supply chains in the unregulated informal sector. Universally accepted standards and programming will ensure ethical and economically viable sourcing partnerships for retail brands and artisan producers.

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Artisan craft is the second largest employer of women in developing economies, behind only agriculture. But craft is also part of the informal cash economy, making artisans invisible and their working conditions unregulated. Estimates suggest that 20-60% of garment production occurs in the home, not inside the four-wall factory. No reliable means of monitoring homework currently exists. Nest is committed to empowering through transparency.


In collaboration with artisans, brands like West Elm, and potential partners Eileen Fisher, Ann, Inc. and more, Nest will develop a set of open-source ethical compliance standards, mapped to traditional factory audits but adapted to the context of homework and decentralized artisan production models. Not a pass/fail system, the assessment results inform design and implementation of programming plans to improve both the economic and social viability of artisan businesses. Compliance issues being addressed range from Fair Compensation and Transparent Record-Keeping to Child Advocacy and Artisan Rights and Wellbeing. Market Readiness programming ranges from business and communication training to design mentorship and facility upgrades.


Since its inception, Nest programming has contributed to the employment of 84,000 people within global artisan supply chains. In terms of the Artisan Advancement Project specifically, Nest has piloted the newly developed standards and assessment tools with 4 different artisan businesses across 3 continents, providing increased transparency to more than 5,000 people. Nest is currently in the process of piloting remediation programming with these groups, which will commence in early 2016. Nest is in the process of establishing a steering committee of key retail brands who will pilot the Advancement Project with their artisan suppliers over 2016. Once the model is fully developed, it will be publicly launched with open source standards and the ability to utilize Nest services via a fee-for-service model. Nest anticipates reaching a minimum of 25,000 artisans in year one alone.

Founding Story

Rebecca van Bergen formed the idea of Nest the same year Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Prize for his work in microfinance. With a degree in social work, she concerned herself with the universal challenges of women in developing economies, and recognized craft as an underutilized resource available to women to strengthen their families and communities. Rebecca believed that loans could only be part of the equation in growing sustainable businesses. They must be combined with training, business acumen, and market forces, in order to effect change that would could be deemed sustainable. Long before artisan was a buzzword, Rebecca recognized artisans as forces for positive global change.



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