Marna' Talha Center for Marketing: Products of the Yemeni Handicrafts' Associations
After conducting an assessment of the needs of the handicraft professions, the SFD established a center to help handicrafts associations to train craftsmen and women to develop and market their products. The center will help to build the capacities of the associations, which will in turn build the capacities of the craftsmen and women. The aim is to train 2 to 3 associations, enabling them to develop and market their own products. This should help to ensure the continuity of the associations' work and also to contribute to improving the living conditions of those targeted.
The SFD rehabilitated a heritage facility in the Marna’ Talha area (in the Old City of Sana’a) to help link the crafts industry to the heritage sites. Through a competition between 6 handicraft and marketing organizations, Al-Bara'ah (Innocence) Association was chosen to manage the Center under direct supervision by the SFD. The Association appointed a board for the Center composed of four of its members and representatives from the private sector and partner associations.
During the year, the Center continued to provide its services to the associations, selecting for participation 9 associations from Al-Hudaidah, Aden and Sana'a governorates in accordance with criteria that ensure impartiality and transparency. The Center organized a number of training courses for members of the partner handicrafts associations to educate the participants in producing competitive products with marketable quality. One of these courses targeted 10 female artisans working in weaving and knitting natural wool products. Afterwards, another course was organized and attended by 50 trainees (half of whom were then selected to attend another training concerned with embroidering and sewing). At present the trainees are considered quality control supervisors for production and finishing.
In a field visit to the Baitana (Our Home) Foundation, one of the Center’s partner associations, SFD representatives learned that a company had requested 10 models of manually-embroidered pillow cases, in order to select one for a 100,000-piece order. This will contribute to improving the living conditions of the women working in the foundation.
Ms. Nisreen Al-Sufiani (age 23), a trainee holding a vocational diploma in sewing and working as a sewing and design trainer, participated in a course in knitting and weaving wool belts, rags, and other traditional products. She mentioned that the Center had enabled her to improve the skills that she had acquired during her diploma course, indicating that she could design and sew new embroidered pieces with traditional touches added to them; these products are popular with customers in the local wedding market. At present, Nisreen is teaching others to design and sew women’s dresses, school uniforms, traditional Yemeni dresses and jalabiyas.
It is worth noting that the Marna' Talha Center is planning to establish a joint Yemeni-Qatari heritage center in Doha, to promote handicrafts made of wood, palm fronds, textiles and leather. The Center will take responsibility for the marketing and sales' operations in the state of Qatar. The Center is also in ongoing discussions with an international expert regarding conducting a study on the European German-speaking market (Germany, Switzerland and Austria), to look into potential opportunities and demand for Yemeni products.