The Good Shopper
by Barry Yeoman
Global at Home
The online marketplace Novica (novica.com) offers a cornucopia of rugs, handbags, masks, mirrors, and fine carved furniture, but with a twist: The company sells its products to the public directly from traditional artisans in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, eliminating the usual middlemen. "The whole system of intermediaries is done away with," says cofounder and CEO Roberto Milk. This means craftmakers earn considerably more for their work- and, at the same time, consumers save money.
Novica, which is owned in part by National Geographic, has helped revive dying crafts through its Internet-based sales. Peruvian weaver Leoncio Tinoco had all but abandoned his traditional method of making tapestries so intricate they resemble photographs. With Novica's support, he received the Amauta Title, Peru's most prestigious arts award, in 2001, and now earns a livable wage.