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Lead Consultant for West Africa, MADE51 Program, UNHCR and WFTO

June 2019 ongoing

In collaboration with UNHCR and WFTO, MADE51 is a program that is empowering artisan refugees to develop high-value products for the international market and create viable market-linkage opportunities in collaboration with local SMEs. My work covers the West African region and the thousands of Malian refugees and regional internally displaced persons, as well as work in other countries where I have experience and expertise.

Value Chain Senior Consultant

2019-2020 Iraq. Prosperity Catalyst/US Dept. of State

Developed and leading a program to build local artisan capacity – product design and development geared to international markets, increasing production efficiency, entrepreneurship development, sector-wide collaboration, and increasing business acumen and leadership. Market linkage activities to include international buyer trips, local expos and virtual promotion. Developed strategies, trainings and workplans. 

"Elaine's skills and rich experience in the artisan field have greatly enhanced our approach to identifying artisan skills. We are looking forward to our continuing collaboration."

     - Catherine Gibbons, Executive Director

Strengthening the Handmade Industries of Zambia

2018-2019 Private Enterprise Program (PEP) Zambia, Nathans Associates London, DFID

Led the crafts industry empowerment inititative in Zambia. Working with 30+ artisan companies, created marketable collections, generated considerable B2B relationships, and led export readiness training and mentoring. Immediately following capacity building activities, in order to reinforce and build on inputs, brought international buyers to Zambia, generating significant international sales.

Authored the Handicrafts Export Guide for Zambia, published 2019, 115 pages.

"Elaine was the perfect choice for the PEP Zambia crafts initiative. Her Professional advice and judgement has proven to be spot on, and her dedication and hard work went beyond anything we could ask for.". 


      James Blewett, PEPZ Team Leader

Created Export Guide and Training Workshops, Morocco and Tunisia

July 2017 - 2019. Tunisia & Morocco. U.S. Department of Commerce

For the U.S. Department of Commerce co-authored Guide Practique d’Export de l’Artisanat Tunisien vers les Ëtats-Unis (Practical Handicraft Export Guide for Tunisia) for handicraft businesses and exporters Tunisia. Moroccan Guide coming out early 2019. Designed and implemented numerous regional training workshops, liaised with local governments and NGOs. Tunisian guide launched in 2018 in French and Arabic. Orchestrated US wholesale buyer missions to Tunisia and Morocco and drafted directives for Handicraft Ministries on strategies to increase international buyer attendance at national tradeshows. 

"Elaine co-authored our Handicraft Export Guide, her writing is clear and concise. She was mobbed by throngs of participants at our workshops demonstrating how deeply she resonates with entrepreneurs. Her works is incredibly impactful!"

   - Marianne McManus, Senior Counsel, U.S. Department of Commerce

Technical Barriers to Trade, Ghana and Sierra Leone

2016 - 2017 (PBLH, European Commission)

Led team to research, write and train on major technical barriers to trade impacting the handicraft value-chain in Ghana and Sierra Leone. Issues addressed included intellectual property protection, trademarks, standards and certifications as well as market-driven barriers such as quality assurance and on-trend product design. 

"Elaine’s passion for this work, her high level of professionalism and her vast experience and knowledge base of the handicraft value-chain has been inspiring for myself and our team of experts.  I look forward to opportunities of working together again."

 - Silvia Schiavon, Project Manager PBLH

Creative Industries Empowerment Program (CIEP) of Lesotho

2014 - 2016 Lesotho Ministry of Toursim, Environment and Culture with the World Bank PSC Office in Lesotho

This comprehensive program began with setting a viable strategic agenda and action plan that included intensive training and coaching and market linkage activities closely aligned to training activities; international buyers were introduced to companies early in the program so that results quickly followed training activities, and coaching was available to companies during the initial international orders. This program resulted in strong and sustained international sales and growth. Within a year, Lesotho, a country with no previous artisanal exports, was selling to major US retail chains such as  the J.Crew Group. 

""Elaine's professionalism and dedication instilled a new vision for Lesotho’s creative industry while bringing tangible results. For the first time artisans are experiencing actual growth and access to international markets. It has been very exciting to witness." 

-Thabo Leanya, Acting Director of Culture, Lesotho Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture (MTEC)

USAID West Africa Trade Hub

2009 - 2013 Ghana & Regional, CARANA Corp (Now Pallidium)

This major regional program focussed on international trade and building the capacity of West Africans to compete in the global marketplace. Heading up the Home Decor and Fashion Accessories value-chains, Bellezza developed a variety of training and coaching initiatives as well as an aggressive marketing campaign that included international trade shows, extensive buyer tours, and pro-active web marketing. The AfricaNow brand was created under this program and became a key influencer to assure international buyers that Africa is a viable sourcing option. 

"Elaine is one of the most creative and entrepreneurial people with whom I have had the pleasure of working. Her design talent, combined with her energy and sense for what works in a commercial environment is unmatched."
-Nate Van Dusen, Vice President for Africa, CARANA Corp

Mia Mali

2002 - 2006 Bamako, Mali

After working for years with artisan projects in West Africa, Bellezza launched her own artisanal business in Mali.  In 4 years Mia Mali grew from a handful of artisans to nearly 200 artisan groups across the country, designing hundreds of collections from furniture to jewelry to textiles. It was the largest  boutique in the country and was exporting to four continents.  “This was my trial by fire, no university could have prepared me to do development work as running my own business in one of the poorest countries on the planet,” she recounts. Upon leaving she gave her business to her core team who are still growing and going strong 11 years later. 

“Elaine’s work is legend in Mali"   - Lisa Nichols, Abt Associates

"Hundreds of artisans across Mali have gained their livelihoods for the past decade through Elaine's early work. Her impact is still felt today."

- Fatime Bouaré, GM, Mali Chic 

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