Made in Burundi: UNDP scales up programme of access to international markets

21 Jul 2014

imagePhoto: Aude Rossignol/UNDP Burundi

UNDP has announced that it is scaling up a recent initiative designed to help Burundian women export naturally dyed baskets, bracelets and jewelry to markets in the United States and elsewhere.

The programme is to receive an additional USD 900,000 financing, having started with USD 150,000.

Having successfully helped 80 women from communities in the South of Burundi to manufacture and export their handicrafts, UNDP will extend its collaboration with Opportunities Across Africa (OAA), a non-profit organization operating in East Africa, for another period of two years.

Ultimately, the programme aims to create a network of women-owned small businesses across the country, contributing to dramatically increasing the options of women artisans as they learn to manage their own businesses.

The women earn five dollars per day. Because they are increasingly involved in local decision-making and investing in infrastructure and education, more than 1,000 people are expected to benefit from the programme.

UNDP and OAA trained a women’s cooperative in the Southern town of Makamba to meet minimum quality standards for exports outside of Burundi. The group is now capable of producing 10,000 bracelets per day from straw and sisal, a variation of the agave plant which produces a stiff fiber used to produce paper, cloth, wall coverings, and carpets.

The programme started as part of UNDP’s community recovery programme in crisis-affected areas of Burundi but has now expanded, as OAA began to partner with All Across Africa, a social enterprise that connects artisans with international value chains in developed countries. The products can now be purchased at Costco in the United States.

Through the programme, UNDP is providing business training to the women, helping them to access local health and education services, as well as reaching out to them on matters relating to local decision-making, violence against women and peace-building.