USAID, EU Support Lebap’s Artisans in Expanding to International Markets

USAID, EU Support Lebap’s Artisans in Expanding to International Markets
Ten participants who made it to the final event of the "Lebap Handmade Exports" business incubator program on September 30, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (Photo: US Embassy in Turkmenistan)

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Delegation of the European Union to Turkmenistan, with the support of the National Commission of Turkmenistan for UNESCO on September 30 in Ashgabat held the final event of the "Lebap Handmade Exports" (Lebap HME) business incubator program. The event featured a crafts exhibition of Turkmenistan’s finest artisans and a competition of nine program finalists, presenting their new businesses, products and progress achieved throughout the Lebap HME program to a panel of judges.

The goal of the Lebap HME program is to showcase Turkmen handicrafts on eBay and other international trading platforms to expand market reach and increase international sales. Over the course of six months, the program has empowered 20 local artisans from the Lebap region with valuable skills in areas such as product design, social media marketing, copywriting, photography and digital marketing. The program also provided opportunities for networking and collaboration, including new business partners and online stores based in the United States - a key market for Turkmen handicrafts.

Three program participants received prizes from the organizers and sponsors in an awards ceremony. Maysa Ovezova, founder of the “Hunarli” online marketplace, won first place thanks to her impressive business growth and operational achievements over the program duration. Ms. Ovezova demonstrated strong sales traction, having sold 40 products for a total of 47,700 TMT from May to September 2023.

Launched in April 2023 in Turkmenabat, Lebap region, the Lebap HME program is a joint venture between USAID’s FGI Project and the European Union Delegation to Turkmenistan. The program also received crucial support from the Turkmenistan National Commission for UNESCO.