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ART AFRICA PRODUCTS: The only African hand crafted Kisii stone in North America that are artist identified by an artist engraved name on each item and accompanied by a three color descriptive hang tag.

The Art Africa project was HELP International's first large scale development project in Africa and Canada beginning in 1992.
HELP worked with sixty three stone carving families of the Lake Victoria community of Tabaka. Although the community's art was becoming famous around the world, the return to the community was miniscule and basic amenities such as primary education and health care were unaffordable. 55 of the 63 families had no bank accounts nor access to bank credit.
The art marketing conditions were deplorable. Exporters from Europe and North America placed giant orders predominantly for the Christmas period after which there were almost no markets the rest of the year. Worst of all, exporters would not allow the artists to identify their art by name engraving as a tight fisted method of hiding the source of the art from competing exporters.
Exporters often purchased one artist's original and then creating bidding wars with piece workers to 'see who could make a thousand of original the cheapest'.
The Art Africa project carried out the wishes of the artist community in the following ways:
The project assisted the artists form the Kisii Soapstone Artists Foundation. Market Guarantee Program?

The project initiated the 1st ever market guarantee program providing guaranteed monthly income to the sixty three artist families by carrying out six month renewable contracts with each artist family group. The income averaged over $120/month in a community where the average income was below the minimum wage of $30/month. This was a gigantic two year financial commitment by the project, investing an average of over $6,500/month into the market guarantee program throughout 1993, 1994 and into 1995. Health and Credit Tax
The project and the artist community agreed that each party would contribute 5% of sales (10% in total) into two funds with their own bank accounts.
• One was the Emergency Health Fund where artist or family members who are hospitalized could borrow interest free from the fund and pay back to the fund via deductions from future months of art contracts.

• The second fund was the Building and Business Development Fund in which artist's could borrow interest free up to $125.00 (a micro business start loan is as low as $30.00) for home or business building projects. Again the funds were paid back through deduction from subsequent months art contracts.

Both funds were governed exclusively by the Kisii Soapstone Artist Foundation of which HELP was not a signatory but was treated as a donor.

The project has its main galleries in Weyburn, Saskatchewan at the organization's Canadian headquarters.

The project has wholesaled through 85 Retail Partners in Development across Western Canada during the market guarantee period 1993 through 1995. Today, HELP wholesales with other charities and retailers in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Any business may apply to HELP International to be a Partner in Development.

The Art Africa gallery features two lines: A Craft Line with over 120 different item types retailing from $3.00 to $90.00. The project's Fine Art gallery features some of the industries leading abstract and traditional sculptors with works retailing from between $100.00 to $5,000.00


 © HELP International 2014