House of Artisans
From Peace Corps Wiki
Info about the House of Artisans
There are several problems, affecting the Maison des Artisans that this project seeks to address. Most stem from the rather unforgiving location of Gao, Mali, in respect to other regions in or outside Mali; especially those which are more easily accessible and far more lucrative for traders (from raw materials to finish goods and services). A lack of tourism, then, which is heavily relied upon by the artisans, is of course an obstacle that the Maison finds difficult to overcome, but is something this project seeks to ameliorate. Reflecting further on the relative inaccessibility and a lack of economic incentives for traders to pursue markets in Gao, the Maison encounters several other obstacles: a general lack of high-quality, low-cost raw materials, and, perhaps more significant and potentially detrimental, a flight of talented, highly-skilled artisans, native to Gao, who may be seeking markets elsewhere.
Ultimately, the same reasons contributing to Gao’s relative inaccessibility are also the source of it’s intrigue, it’s rich heritage, and illuminating cultural history. And this project seeks to afford the knowledgeable consumer—seeking the niche Gao market—the opportunity to purchase not only authentic Songhaï and Touareg crafts, but crafts of a superior quality to a pervasive market of similar crafts elsewhere. The local access point created inside the Maison des Artisans will form a cache of the finest-quality raw materials found in West Africa, available for purchase with either hard currency, or through an innovative system of credit, managed within and among the various craft associations at the Maison. With a total project cost of $ 4,147.00 , the Maison des Artisans seeks to significantly improve the quality of their finished products; to retain native, highly-skilled artisans; to increase their capacity to sell their products to other regions of Mali and West Africa; and, finally, to foster a more dynamic and productive working environment where the artisans can flourish in their ancient crafts.