EU4Culture Grants Transform Kruja Women Artisans into Digital Entrepreneurs

November 17, 2023

17 November 2023

For centuries, marketing and sales at the traditional crafts market of the ancient mountain city of Kruja, were mens’ jobs. Revenues were limited to a short tourist season and highly dependent on the good weather. New technologies were a perfect solution for helping artisans improve their livelihoods and become more resilient for future challenges and shocks, such as pandemics, bad weather conditions or travel restrictions.

EU4Culture implemented by UNOPS in Albania has supported women artisans in Kruja to develop and enhance their branding and digital marketing skills to go beyond business-as-usual and leverage an untapped potential of the domestic and international online markets.

Through the “Artisans between Past and Future” grants initiative, women artisans took part in 12 training sessions to learn how to use social media and create visually-appealing content in order to market and sell their handicrafts online.

As part of the project, a digital information board has been developed and installed at the entrance of Kruja Old Bazaar, serving as a valuable resource for tourists seeking information on artisans and local cultural heritage sites. Moreover, the board will be utilized by the municipality for essential community announcements.

“EU4Culture is one of the largest and ambitious cultural heritage initiative by the EU in the Western Balkans, underscoring the solidarity and immense priority the EU accords to Albania. The program is not only restoring cultural heritage sites damaged by 2019 earthquake but through such initiatives is also supporting local socio-economic development by promoting cultural tourism potential” noted Mr Andrea Ferrero, Head of Sustainable Economic and Social Development Section of the Delegation to the European Union in Albania.

“Our expectation is that the training in branding, digital marketing, and online sales will empower artisans to bridge the digital divide. Beyond the economic aspects, these ‘skills of the future’ will contribute to preserving centuries-old traditions, ensuring their passage to the next generations,” remarked Pamela Lama, UNOPS EU4Culture Programme Manager.

“The new skills acquired by Kruja artisans, coupled with the establishment of the new Infopoint, will not only enhance the economic development of the region but also play a vital role in promoting tourism. Consequently, this will stimulate the local economy and generate new incomes for the communities.” she added.

“Artisans Between Past and Future” is more than a project for us, it’s a profound commitment to preserving our cultural tapestry. By empowering local artisans with digital skills, we bridge the past and future, ensuring traditional crafts endure in the modern world. This initiative not only empowers the community of the talented women artisans of Kruja, but also celebrates the timeless beauty of our heritage, transforming history into a living masterpiece for generations to come.” noted Juljan Aga, Executive Director of PROGRESS Foundation.

‘’The marketing workshop was very useful for me and it will help me to have an online presence to sell our products” noted Dallandyshe Tabaku, a 35 year-old traditional carpet maker.

“We have learnt marketing skills for our products, how to advertise them online, adapt our sales to the modern market realities” noted Kumrije Berushi who has been an artisan for more than 30 years.

“I became an artisan when I was 15 years old and I would really like to pass on this craft to all young girls and women while I am still able to work to make sure that traditional craft of carpet-making will not get lost” noted Deshire Maja.

EU4Culture provided grants to five local initiatives aimed at supporting artisans and fostering cultural tourism in Kruja, benefitting over 500 individuals. These activities generated 41 new job opportunities, including 29 specifically for women. The initiatives also contributed to the creation of 42 cultural tourism products, including an information digital board, various branding packages, promotional videos, websites, and more.

More about the project: Home – Kruja Bazaar