Spotlight on AIM Alumni

Turning Art Into Enterprise: Polly Ahrendts, TEDxABQ Talk

Jun 04 2015


Solidarity not Charity
Whether in Cambodia, Botswana or Afghanistan, Polly Ahrendts has found that women are able to create opportunities that make sense in their respective communities, helping hundreds of thousands of people to live better lives.

Twelve years ago, shares Polly in her TEDxABQ Talk (when you click the link, Polly's talk is ten minutes long and is at 3H21M time stamp so three hours 21 minutes into the video), I was engaged in my own personal struggle. “My personal tool kit was not working for me anymore. I left the investment world, moved to New Mexico and as I looked for ways to connect and give back, I stumbled upon a path toward transformation.”


Everything just clicked and the whole world opened up.

Through her involvement with the International Folk Art Market in Sante Fe, New Mexico and the power of film (password: handmade), Polly discovered that access to marketplaces provided a gateway to a better life for women artists. When conscious consumers purchase authentic handmade art directly from the artisans it can be life-changing for everyone involved.

“Everything just clicked and the whole world opened up. This began for me when I began to appreciate the art and humanity of the handmade,” shares Polly. In the video from the TedxABQ Talk, Polly stands on stage wearing the silk scarf a Cambodian weaved and a tunic made by women living in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Hope and Freedom
By moving forward, Polly explains, there is hope. Financial independence means freedom for these women and their families.

Against the Odds
Through Polly’s journey of discovery, she learned that these artists and entrepreneurs are the second largest employer in the developing world. At festivals like the one in Sante Fe, these women earn in a weekend what would normally require five to ten years. “This,” said Polly, “is what access can do. Given the means, these women work against all the odds to better themselves.”

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