Twice a year, in May and November, a small team of volunteers (including Karama staff) organizes a gathering of entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and small businesses from all over Tanzania. This marketplace offers Tanzanians a platform to showcase their ideas and products to shoppers in Dar es Salaam while supporting employment, networking, and creative growth for artisans.
In order to participate, artisans, businesses, and nonprofits must submit an application with pictures of their products. Priority is given to groups that employ and empower marginalized Tanzanians and to artisans who need a way to get exposure in a competitive market. The Artisan Market Team prizes creativity and originality, and always seeks new faces to keep the market fresh and exciting.
For many organizations that employ disabled, deaf, impoverished artisans or are based in very rural locations, the Artisan Market is a chance to earn profits for the entire year and gain new supporters. With the exposure from the market, nonprofits can spread awareness and raise funds for artisans' salaries. The market also gives artisans a chance to learn new techniques and skills as they experiment with new product designs. With the increased amount of products for sale, the nonprofits can employ more artisans to create stock.
Many of Karama's artisan groups showcase their products at the Artisan Market. This allows the groups to participate in local markets, which helps artisans to put down roots in their communities, allowing for long-term growth and development. Karama can't always purchase large quantities of products from every group or invest in every kind of product that a group offers, but we can offer them a way to sell to other buyers besides us. Artisan groups become more dynamic and stable when they have multiple buyers with different needs.
The Artisan Market helps generate connections and community-building. The variety of products and artisans who make them creates an exciting atmosphere for vendors and shoppers alike. Vendors experience healthy competition and a place to cultivate new ideas, and shoppers help stimulate the economies of innumerable communities with their purchasing power. New artisans and artisan groups learn much-needed business skills while the vendors that participate in each market are challenged with the task of creating new designs and ways to sell their products. There is a spirit of teamwork, vitality, and creativity at the Artisan Market.
This May market was the largest and most profitable yet, with over 80 vendors and 115 tables sprawled across an outdoor shopping center in a busy part of town. The sun was shining, music was playing, and many shillings exchanged hands. This market was a success, and will continue to be a success as long as ambitious, community-minded, and creative people work to share dignity, employment, and opportunities.