Despite misconceptions that handcraft is niche and non-scalable, the handwork sector was valued at $526.5 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach $984.8 billion by 2023, making it one of the largest informal sectors in the global economy. Yet most consumers do not know where their goods are manufactured. Estimates suggest between 20-60% of global garment manufacturing is subcontracted to home-based workers who set soles on shoes, pompoms on winter hats, or tri-folding tissue paper.
Nest's ethical handcraft program sustainably improves livelihoods through a systems-change approach that balances grassroots impact with industry-level improvements. Our solution stimulates drivers of both supply and demand for handcraft goods, improving end worker well-being, reducing corporate risk, and boosting economic growth for both the handcraft enterprise and the corporation while engaging consumers in ethical purchasing practices. The model addresses the challenges of home-based work by supporting entrepreneurs to overcome barriers that prevent artisan SMEs from gaining access to international sales opportunities. The steps in our ethical handcraft program include:
Supply chain mapping: layers of sub-contracting obscure visibility of the actual supply chain structure. Nest works with artisan business leaders to create a detailed mapping of the supply chain including each subcontracting layer.
Pre-assessment training: Nest's onsite pre-assessment training clearly articulates the expectations regarding ethical compliance and allows for a review of current business practices and training that support progress toward compliance.
Remediation: a report summarizes the pre-assessment training visit and includes remediation recommendations to address prior to the final compliance assessment.
Compliance assessment: six months after pre-assessment training, businesses are formally assessed against the Nest Standards using a proprietary evaluation that is adapted to comply with local labor law. This timeline allows for the uptake of information and time for the business to incorporate new policies and procedures.
Corrective action plan: Nest delivers its assessment findings to relevant stakeholders and subject matter experts provide additional remediation support.
Earning the Nest Seal of Ethical Handcraft is a key differentiator that attracts interest from brand partners looking for compliant vendors from whom they can begin to directly source handcraft product. This helps businesses located in rural communities increase their access to new supply chains and markets. It also provides important systems that can help improve operations and efficiency on top of the worker-level benefits.