The innovative business development programs, now in their tenth year, match business leaders with master folk artists to help meet the challenges of the new global marketplace

June 3, 2015, Santa Fe, New Mexico — The global investment company BNY Mellon joins EILEEN FISHER, Inc. as a sponsor of the IFAA’s Mentor to Market training programs. As part of its ongoing mission to promote the global artist economy through education and sustainable business development, the International Folk Art Alliance has continued to grow its Mentor to Market (M2M) programs, providing master folk artists with opportunities to develop their businesses and navigate the global marketplace while preserving their artistic and cultural traditions. BNY Mellon is supporting the 2015 M2M programs with a sponsorship of $25,000 to help equip and empower these cultural entrepreneurs.

With this sponsorship, BNY Mellon joins EILEEN FISHER, which is supporting the M2M programs for the third year. Its total gift of $75,000 is part of EILEEN FISHER’S commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative to empower women entrepreneurs by providing business skills, education, and mentoring.

With the Mentor to Market programs now in their tenth year, one thing is clear: To nourish the unparalleled talent of folks artists around the world, these artists—many of whom live in developing countries where the average person gets by on less than $3 a day—need more markets, more capacity building, and more opportunities to participate in the formal economy. For this reason, the Mentor to Market programs provide artists with critical tools and training as well as ways to connect with the rest of the world.

“Craft is the second-largest income generator in the developing world, but the barriers faced are many,” says Jeff Snell, IFAA’s CEO. “We’re deeply committed to helping them meet those challenges in a number of ways. If we can offer programs that teach how to better navigate the demands of selling work in the global marketplace, they become vibrant cultural entrepreneurs who can leverage their art to create economic and social value both for themselves and for their entire communities. We’re fortunate to have world-class partners who share our vision.”

Through varied curricula including an online learning lab, a partnership with the Dallas Market Center, and an extensive mentorship program involving prominent industry professionals, M2M provides master folk artists with the opportunity to build upon their business through export guidance, sales tips, and classes on pricing, merchandising, and much more.

Elhadji Koumama, a master Tuareg jeweler from Niger who employs over 35 silversmiths, put it this way in a letter to IFAA: “The support you have offered me in the past and present has made it possible for the artisans and their families to prosper. Our whole community has thrived. We are able to make a fair living while producing our cultural craft. The kids all now go to school. The quality of our jewelry has improved also, because of the support of everyone associated with my journey. Thank you for the happiness I see around my workshop, and the pride we feel as a community.”

The International Folk Art Alliance is a tax-exempt, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. IFAA is an active member of the Clinton Global Initiative, and a founding member of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, along with by the U.S. Department of State and the Aspen Institute. 

For interview requests or more information about the Mentor to Market programs and the ways in which they are supported by BNY Mellon and EILEEN FISHER, please contact Clare Hertel at 505-474-6783 or