- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2006

The International Finance Corp. is throwing its hat into the retail ring this week with the opening of Pangea Artisan Market and Cafe, which will sell products made in developing countries.

The IFC, which promotes private business in developing countries, is leasing space to about 60 small businesses from 20 countries to provide an outlet to sell their handmade products in the American marketplace.

Half of the small businesses represented in the store are supported by the IFC, which provides startup funding and business instruction. The artisans use their traditional skills to provide the market with products such as stationery and calendars from Brazil, woven silk from Cambodia and baskets from Swaziland.

Pangea says it works only with businesses that meet its ethical standards, which include fair wages and no child labor.

“The notion here is that poor people don’t need a handout,” said Harold Rosen, director of grass-roots business organizations at the IFC and director of Pangea. “These people just need some business support.”

The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), one of the small businesses selling products at Pangea, has recorded sales of about $4 million over three years at its stores in India, said director Reema Nanvaty. Pangea is its first store outside India.

SEWA helps 15,000 women in Ahmedabad, India, produce and sell clothing and jewelry for its store, the SEWA Trade Facilitation Center. Agriculture was the only source of income in the desert area, forcing families to migrate to find work on farms or as roadside laborers. Through SEWA, they have a way to sell their products in a marketplace, boosting their income from $1 per day to $5 or $6 per day.

“Their traditional skills were never used for any economic purposes,” Ms. Nanvaty said. “Now the women have increased income, can feed their families … and send their children to school.”

About one-third of revenue at Pangea will go back to the producers, while the rest will cover overhead and projects to form strong, sustainable businesses, Mr. Rosen said. None of the revenue will go to the IFC.

The shop is managed by World Craft & Cafe Inc., an IFC contractor, and leases space from the IFC at 2121 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

Record yearfor Virginia tourism

Tourists spent a record $16.5 billion in Virginia last year, a 9.6 percent jump over 2004.

Nearly 55 million people visited the commonwealth last year, 1.2 percent more than in 2004. Just more than half of the visits were overnight trips, the Virginia Tourism Corp. reported.

Public transportation spending by tourists rose 9.3 percent, while private transportation costs were up 18.3 percent, increases that the state agency attributed partly to high gas prices last summer. Lodging spending rose 9 percent and food spending jumped 7 percent.

Virginia will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown next year with an 18-month tourism campaign that begins today with the launch of Godspeed, a replica of a 17th-century ship. The Godspeed, which will have historical and cultural displays, will travel from Jamestown to several East Coast sites in the next 2 months. It will stop at Founders Park in Alexandria from May 27 to June 3.

• Contact Jen Haberkorn at 202/636-4836 or [email protected]

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