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NYU Students team up with Nest to help Amenuveve Batik develop its business in Ghana

This year, Nest has partnered with NYU Stern to co-teach an undergraduate course focused on social entrepreneurship in rural Ghana. The class, which has collaborated with the community of Woadze Tsatoe in the province of Ho for five years, has focused this year on advising the development of fledgling artisan batik cooperative, Amenuveve Batik, founded three years prior as a result of past students’ involvement. 

When NYU began its work in Woadze Tsatoe five years ago, the community had not previously practiced batik. NYU identified a need for income generating activities and invited the community to vote on which type of craft-based enterprise would be pursued. Women in Woadze unanimously elected to learn Batik versus kente cloth weaving or paper bead making. Since then, the cooperative has become skilled at dye-baths, color-layering, and developing unique and customized stamps for block printing. The cooperative’s fearless leader, Vida, brings with her the added benefits of a degree in fashion design from a local technical university – and is also the first elected female mayor to the town of Woadze Tsatoe!

This year, as Amenuveve Batik moved into critical next stages of growth, NYU  brought on Nest to provide consulting support to its students and faculty and to leverage our in-depth knowledge of artisan business development to help bring structure to the student projects.

Between March 6th and 19th, Nest’s Director of Sourcing and Artisan Business Development, Annie Millican, accompanied the NYU class of 23 students divided into five teams, each tasked with addressing a key business need across the fields of marketing, financial planning, and production. Primary goals onsite in Ghana were to: conduct a strategic growth assessment (supplementing Nest’s pre-site work with the artisan business), identify the primary work products needed by the artisan business to grow, and finally, to revise and oversee student projects to ensure delivery of a viable work product to the artisan business.

Over the course of close to two weeks in Ghana, students worked assiduously on creating a product index, catalog, and product management system for Amenuveve Batik, all under Nest’s guidance. Product photos were collected and students meticulously documented dye recipes and resulting dye swatches for inclusion in a shiny new brand catalog. Students further conducted cost of goods exercises, teased out key brand messages of the business, and created marketing “talking points” to help the business communicate the dignity of the cooperative and its leadership team. Says Annie: “It was inspiring to watch students encounter the real world constraints of a small artisan business start-up for the first time – especially coming from the classroom setting. Their responses in the field showed how well they were able to move from theory to application.”

With Nest and NYU’s assistance, Amenuveve Batik has realized some immediate successes. By working with Vida to re-merchandise her product, more than $2,000 worth of new sales have been generated. The students have further set up a trunk show on April 26th in New York to help Vida generate further sales while making use of existing batik inventory without a sales outlet. In the words of one NYU student (who couldn’t have said it better): “you can have great financial and social reward by investing in the community”.