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Danielle Chiel Is Empowering Women In Developing Countries With The Artisan Nation

By Ashley Hume
Posted On Mar 26, 2021
Danielle Chiel Is Empowering Women In Developing Countries With The Artisan Nation

To celebrate Women’s History month, New You is highlighting a woman on a mission to create a worldwide sisterhood. Danielle Chiel is an entrepreneur and the founder of  The Artisan Nation, a for-profit organization that provides employment, food and medical supplies to village women in developing countries.

“The Artisan Nation is a nation that’s not bound by language, geography or culture,” Chiel told New You. “It’s a nation that is bound by passion, creativity and talent and it’s a bridge that enables the empowerment of women in developing countries.” 

Ten years ago, Chiel, who is based in Sydney, Australia, set out to start a handknitting brand in India. She ventured into rural villages and offered full-time employment to local women who had received no formal education. “Through the years, we found that we broke the education cycle, the financial cycle and the domestic violence cycle of every village we went into,” Chiel said. “I fell in love with these ladies and I realized that if I were to employ a lot of them, I had to knit for lots of brands.”

After partnering with other brands and expanding her business, Chiel retained 250 women as full-time artisans before the COVID-19 pandemic sent the world into lockdown. Most of Chiel’s employees were the primary wage-earners for their families and the lockdown posed a major threat to their livelihoods.

Chiel said she felt a strong responsibility to the village women and she was struggling to find a way to keep the business afloat despite the pandemic. After receiving an email from a contact at the India-Australian Chamber of Commerce, informing her that there were 16 million Indian people in the fashion industry alone that were unemployed, Chiel was compelled to act. “And that’s how The Artisan Nation came to be born,” said Chiel.

The Artisan Nation connects corporate sponsors with individual villages to provide charitable donations for employment development and basic necessities.  Chiel explained, “From my point of view, there was no synergy between corporate money and women living in developing countries and The Artisan Nation is that bridge for people to care so much more about people as human beings.”

Chiel noted that women in developed countries often find their identities through their careers, an advantage not often available to women in developing countries. “These women in developing countries don’t often have identities until they go to work,” Chiel said. “Giving these women the opportunity to find their identities and have their voices heard around the world became my number one mission.”

With the funds donated by corporate sponsors, The Artisan Nation has adopted a three-pronged approach to aiding the women.

  1. Ensuring the women grow stronger physically. The Artisan Nation distributes face masks, enables access to clean water and provides fresh healthy food to the villages.
  2. Unleashing the women’s potential by making a long-term investment in their mental health and well-being. The organization’s priorities include engaging dieticians, providing access to psychologists, retaining movement leaders and conducting annual blood tests.
  3. Helping the women attain regular work. Chiel said that when the women have full-time employment, their anxiety and depression is reduced and their self-confidence grows as they are able to provide stability for their families. The Artisan Nation aims to secure regular work for the women, ensure their individual smartphone use and proficiency and enhance their financial literacy.

Corporations support one village at a time through monthly subscriptions. They receive a translated video once a month, documenting the impact that their contributions have on the lives of the village women. The average cost to support one village is $10,000. The Artisan Nation has also received donations from individuals and groups of women who have banded together to provide assistance.

Chiel has far-reaching ambitions and a strong vision for The Artisan Nation’s future. “I’m not going to rest until we have supported hundreds and hundreds of villages, ”Chiel told New You. “The evolution is to create the strongest sisterhood ever across the nations so that people know that these women are the same as you and me with no opportunity in front of them. They need us to stand hand and hand across that bridge so that the whole world becomes richer and more colorful. And it’s who we are moving forward together.”