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OAS, Min of Tourism host workshop for local artisans

OAS, Min of Tourism host workshop for local artisans


Local artisans have been given a much needed boost by way of a workshop funded by the Organisation of American States (OAS) and hosted by the Ministry of Education.{{more}}

The participants, who are involved in a wider project aimed at helping them improve their craft and business skills, embarked on this three-day practical workshop on Monday, September 15.

Workshop coordinator Jay Belmar said: “Hopefully this will strengthen their livelihoods.

“It’s not just enough that you have ideas in your head, but you also have to know what the tourist wants… tourists are well travelled, and they know what are good products.”

Belmar, communications manager at the Ministry of Tourism, said that the overall project seeks to “strengthen the productive capacity… increase diversity and improve on the quality of locally manufactured craft items.”

The project originally started among the territories of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), Grenada and Dominica, but was expanded to include Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, St Lucia and St Kitts and Nevis – with SVG as the coordinating country.

Workshop facilitator Daniela Viscarra said she was impressed by the talent of the workshop’s 30 participants, but that they require more guidance in terms of creativity and how they run their small businesses.

“The idea here is making a strategy for the artisans; not just sell more products, but sell at better prices,” explained Viscarra, who works as a private consultant to the OAS.

“They have the talent to produce something really unique,” she added. “We have to elevate the quality and then they [tourists] will start paying a better price.”

One of the participants, Caroline Jordan, who owns CJ’s Gems, said that she found the workshop to be informative and enlightening, and that it has helped her improve her craft and business skills.

“I’m always open to learn something new,” she enthused. “Which is one of the reasons why we are here.

“I’m grasping a better concept now of how I should handle my business. Miss Viscarra is pointing my business and the skills I have in a new direction.”

The three-day workshop focused on the use of natural elements, such as bamboo, straw and the banana leaf.

Having completed the theoretical and practical sides of the project, participants will have their resulting products displayed at an exhibition in November.

Following the exhibition, the Ministry of Tourism will add the artisans/participants to a local database and establish a website where they can market/promote their businesses.(JSV)