IESC Volunteer Helps Women Artisans Achieve Economic Independence

Haoua Cheick Seip (right) worked with women weavers in Sri Lanka
Five-time volunteer Haoua Cheick Seip assists war widows in Sri Lanka

Haoua Cheick Seip is the founder of Africa Creations, a wholesaler of handmade African products with a mission to help women artisans achieve economic independence and preserve cultural heritage through creation and sale of traditional crafts. As a consultant and entrepreneur, she has linked artisans in 15 African countries to the U.S. market.

Ms. Cheick has volunteered with International Executive Service Corps (IESC) five times since 2004, making trips to Ghana, Benin, Swaziland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Lesotho to train artisans to access markets and develop export-quality products.

In 2012, she traveled to Sri Lanka to advise the development of the Sri Lanka Peace Collection, an initiative to assist war widows in traditional handloom textile weaving centers by creating a competitive brand for international markets.

Sri Lanka is working to repair the devastation of its 30-year armed conflict, and remedy the economic disparities that helped inflame animosity. Particular emphasis has been placed on income generation for women widowed by the war. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce, working with the Academy of Design and supported by UNESCO and USAID, created an initiative to connect weaving centers in the Northern and Eastern districts to international markets. Named the Sri Lanka Peace Collection, the initiative is introducing traditional handloom weavers to newer designs and products in demand in international markets. Read more…