About Artisan Loans
The Novica Story – Empowering Artists, Cutting out the Middlemen
Novica started as a dream to completely re-invent the way that artisans sell their handcrafted treasures. We set forth and built offices in Africa, Asia and Latin America to work directly with artisans and cut out all of the traditional middlemen. It was no small task, but we were driven by our mission and we had the support of great partners including National Geographic, the IFC/World Bank and Scripps Ventures among many others. We were successful in improving the traditional line of supply for artisans and customers, as you can see below.
Visit our Novica News page to see team videos and an interview with co-founder Armenia Nercessian.
What is the Novica Artisan Loans Program?
Novica's Artisan Loans is an extension of the Novica dream. We wanted to bring the benefits of microcredit loans direct to our artisans. After trying repeatedly to obtain loans for our artisans through local institutions, exasperated, we took matters into our own hands and set up loan disbursement centers through our regional offices.
By going direct and cutting out the banks and financial middlemen, we are harnessing the power of the internet to connect customers with artisans and bring 0% interest rate loans to our artisans!
How does it work?
Lenders browse all available funding requests on the Artisan Loans List, choose their favorite, then make a loan. When an artisan's loan request becomes fully funded, we'll release the funds to the artisan through our regional office. The artisan repays the loan based on the repayment terms, and at the end of the loan period the lenders receive their funds back as a credit into their account.
How does Novica's Artisan Loans differ from other lenders?
The main difference between Novica and other microcredit organizations is that we're disbursing the funds directly to the artisans through our offices, whereas other organizations disburse funds through partner MFIs, who in turn charge interest on funds borrowed. Novica's global infrastructure is the key difference that allows us to offer loans at 0% interest to artisans.
With an Artisan Loan, artisans can purchase new materials, better equipment, expand work spaces and hire additional staff to assist them. Through your purchases and your loans, together we can continue to grow small artisan businesses and make a significant impact on artisans worldwide, generating sustainable economic development and preserving culture and traditional crafts worldwide.
The Lending Process
How do I make my first Artisan Loan?
To make your first loan you must be a member of my NOVICA, which is the main control hub for your whole Novica journey. Once you are signed up and logged in, choose a loan from the Artisan Loan List. Set the amount you want to loan, click lend and proceed to checkout.
How does the loan reach the artist?
Once enough people lend to an artisan, and the loan becomes fully funded, the artisan is free to collect the funds from the Novica office in their region.
When does the Loan Term officially begin?
The Loan Term begins on the same date the artisan collects their funds from their local Novica office.
How will I know when a loan becomes fully funded?
We'll email you once the artisan you made your loan to has become fully funded. You will also be emailed as soon as full repayment has been made.
When and how will I get my money back?
Every time an artisan makes a repayment, your account will be credited. An artisan typically makes 1 or 2 repayments each month - but this repayment schedule can vary. You repayment will be completed in full at the end of the Loan Term, which is typically 6 months in length.
What happens if an artisan defaults on a loan?
Even though we are not anticipating that artisans will default on their loans, there is always a risk they may encounter unforeseen hardships and you will not get your money back. Artisans selected for the Artisan Loans program are actively selling on Novica, and we don't believe they pose a default risk to lenders. In fact, artisans are so excited by this program that we believe they will be extremely motivated to keep a perfect payment history in order to ensure continued access to credit in the future.
Will I earn any interest?
We're not paying out any interest on your loans and likewise, we are not charging our participating artisans any interest. By cutting out all the financial intermediaries we can lend directly to artisans and offer 0% interest loans to grow their businesses.
Why would Novica lend at 0% interest rates?
If we're receiving 0% funds from customers and lenders, we feel we should charge 0% to our participating artisans. Our economic incentive is for each artisan to grow their business and be successful.
How can I lend to my favorite artist(s)?
In the very near future we hope to send you email alerts, as soon as one of the artists you are following requests a loan. To follow an artisan, go to their products or details pages, and click on "add to myNOVICA ARTISTS"
Will my Artisan Loan be seen publicly?
Your loan amount to each artisan will never show up on the website. If you have an open profile, the number of loans you made will show, along with the artisans to whom you've lent in the past.
What payment methods can I use?
We accept all major credit cards at our online checkout.
Can I just make a donation instead of a loan to a Novica artist?
We do not have a method by which you can make a direct donation to an artisan. The very best way to help an artisan succeed is to purchase their items or make them a loan.
Is my Artisan Loans a tax-deductible contribution?
Your Artisan Loans are not a tax-deductible contribution.
Managing My Artisan Loans
How do I view all the activity in my loans?
You can view all of your loan activity in the Artisan Loans area of myNOVICA. To get here, click on the Manage Loans option in the menu of this page. Once here, the My History page will show all of your previous transactions, your current credit balance, and your total outstanding loans.
What is my Available Loan credit?
Your Available Loan Credit is the funds you receive from the artisans as they make their repayments. You can use this credit to make another loan, buy products in the online store, gift a loan, or fund a new Novica region. You can also withdraw your funds.
How do I withdraw my funds?
You can withdraw your Available Loan Credit whenever you like. Click on Manage Loans, which will take you to the Artisan Loans area of myNOVICA. Once here, go to the Dashboard page, where you'll see the option to withdraw on the right side of page.
What is a 15% bonus, and how do I earn it?
If you decide to use your Available Loan Credit to purchase items on the Novica.com website, we give you a 15% bonus balance to use on top of your Available Loan Credit. This 15% bonus balance can only be used to buy handcrafted items - not gift cards or other loans.
What is my Product Credit?
Your Product Credit is the total amount of credit you have available to spend on products from the Novica.com website. This amount is the sum of your Available Loan Credit, and your 15% bonus balance.
What is gifting a loan?
If you want to give someone else the opportunity to help artisans grow their business, you can 'gift a loan'. An Artisan Loan Card, sent via email or by regular mail makes a great gift. The recipient chooses a loan in the regular way, and when in checkout, enters the code on their Artisan Loan Card to make their first loan. When their loan has been repaid, they are free to withdraw the amount or make another loan. You can Gift A Loan from within the Artisan Loans area of myNOVICA.
What is a Free Loan?
A Free Loan is an Artisan Loan that is funded by NOVICA, but given to a customer to apply to the Artisan Loan request of their choice. Once a Free Loan has been repaid by the artisan, the funds return to NOVICA. Customers typically receive Free Loans when they invite friends to join NOVICA, host an artisan trunk show with NOVICA Live, or through other artisan loan promotions.
What does funding a region mean?
Our New Region Development Fund finances the establishment of new Novica regions across the world. We want to touch the lives of artisans and their families in many more regions, and for this we need your help. You can become a region founder by making a small donation each time you're in checkout, or you can make a contribution using your Available Loan Credit, in the My Contributions area of myNOVICA.
Spreading the word about Artisan Loans
How can I tell others about Artisan Loans?
Inviting friends or gifting them with Artisan Loan Cards are great ways to spread awareness for Novica's Artisan Loans. You can invite friends to make a loan from within the Artisan Loans area of myNOVICA.
Can my company offer Artisan Loans as a corporate gift / promotion?
Yes, Novica Corporate Gifting is also an excellent way for companies to introduce Artisan Loans to employees wishing to positively impact the lives of artisans around the world. For more information, please call 1-877-266-8422, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Information about Microcredit
What is microcredit and why is it important?
Microcredit is the provision of tiny loans (microloans) to those in poverty with the aim of developing entrepreneurial activities and spuring economic growth within small communities. The UN Millennium Project identifies microcredit as "one of the development strategies that should be implemented and supported to attain the bold ambition of reducing world poverty by half."
Conventional banking systems cannot reach millions of poor for whom small loans could make a difference and there are several reasons for this, including the fact that they live in rural areas in dispersed communities. Low levels of education and lack of assets to put up as collateral are two more obstacles to securing a loan. As a result, they may only have access to loans through local money-lenders at exorbitantly high interest rates.
A key to microcredit is the recycling of loans. When re-paid, they can be re-loaned, thus multiplying the value of each dollar in defeating global poverty. With small sums of money, people are able to purchase the inventory, tools and supplies needed to start or expand micro-businesses such as the weaving, crafting or carving workshops of Novica artisans.
How does microcredit help raise families out of poverty?
Microfinancing helps in the development of an economy by giving people the chance to establish a sustainable means of income. Eventual increases in disposable income will lead to economic development and growth.
Through microcredit, more families can afford to send their children to school as well as access healthcare. Microcredit programs also enable wider skills training and female empowerment, with women making up the largest group of entrpreneurs receiving microcredit.
Small ventures supported by mircocredit can grow into community businesses and in the case of Novica's Artisan Loans, artisans are able to invite neighboring artisans to work together.
What are common criticisms of microcredit?
Common criticisms of microcredit are (i) high interest rates and (ii) lack of sustainable long-term development opportunities.
(i) Microcredit interest rates typically range from 20 - 40% because banks incur a high level of expenses managing portfolios of many small loans. Therefore, they need to charge a high enough interest rate to cover their additional expenses, such as field personnel and physical offices. With the Novica Artisan Loan program, because we're using our current infrastructure for relationship management and loan disbursement, we're able to subsidize these costs and offer 0% interest rate loans to the artisans.
(ii) Some development experts contend that microcredit is a powerful tool for survival, but it is not a solution for sustainable economic development. In a recent New Yorker article, author James Surowiecki argued "What poor countries need most, then, is not more microbusinesses. They need more small-to-medium sized enterprises, the kind that are bigger than a fruit stand but smaller than a Fortune 1000 corporation."
With Novica, as a result of your purchases and support, many artisans have grown over the past 10 years and many have hired employees to help with the additional orders. Now, with the Novica Artisan Loan program, together we can help continue expanding artisan businesses and successfully build small-to-medium sized businesses in the artisan sector - a foundation to sustainable economic development.
What is the importance of microfinance institutions?
The lack of effective finance institutions has been a deterrent for would-be entrepreneurs with viable business plans from realizing their potential. Women, in particular, have been excluded as loan candidates in developing countries. The lending practices of MFI's offer people living in extreme poverty the opportunity to support themselves and their families, as well as realize their potential in the business community.