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‘Designed By’ vs. ‘Made By’: Two Approaches to Design and Social Entrepreneurship

by Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo

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The majority of the world’s designers focus all their efforts on developing products and services exclusively for the richest 10% of the world’s customers.

This finding represents a responsibility and an opportunity for individual designers, organizations such as Aid to Artisans, and most recently, universities, to embark on projects through which they may create a significant positive impact on artisan communities in the areas of design, marketing, and business, with the principal goal for these communities to generate income via the sale of their artisanal goods. Case studies, such as the Colombian and Indian design/craft projects documented by UNESCO, have demonstrated that design can play “an important role in encouraging environmentally sustainable and economically viable models … of marginalized groups,” positioning it as a process and tool through which to promote social and economic development in underserved communities.

This article discusses “Made by” and “Designed by” approaches to design and social entrepreneurship initiatives in the developing world. The primary focus is an ongoing project that initially started as a collaboration between the global humanitarian organization CARE and The New School, in which students and faculty have been working with a group of Mayan women in Guatemala—Ajkem’a Loy’a—to help them develop a business model for exporting their handcrafted products to the United States.

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