Vibrant geometric patterns, colourful textiles, and intricate earthenware immediately add a sense of warmth and coziness to any room. In Egypt, delightful home additions are created by those with expertise: Egypt’s traditional communities. However, these communities are becoming increasingly economically marginalized, meaning that a significant part of Egypt’s cultural heritage is under threat. Opportunities for developing and marketing their products are few and far between, they lack sufficient technological support, and sometimes their products are subjected to exploitation.ALEXBANK's flagship CSR initiative, Ebda3 Men Masr, helps to empower these communities by working with the new concept of 'Creating Shared Value', aiming to preserve Egypt's craft heritage. The initiative aims at promoting entrepreneurship culture, especially in the remote rural areas of Egypt, offering Egyptian talents professional support so as to help integrate them within an inclusive economy. 4,000 Egyptian artisans have already benefited from the initiative, which works with institutions, NGOs, and individuals to pursue sustainable development and employment opportunities - notable collaborations have been with the Egyptian Network for Integrated Development (ENID), Fair Trade Egypt, Yadaweya, and Tunis Village. Also cooperating with the Ministry of Social Solidarity and the National Council for Women, the initiative holds local and international exhibitions which provide artisans with a chance to promote their handicrafts.In order to effectively sustain its strategy to empower Egypt's traditional communities, ALEXBANK is the Title Sponsor and Strategic Partner of the International Handicrafts Show. Held in Cairo from 15th to 24th November at the Cairo International Fair Ground Exhibition Center, it features, for the second year, a grand Ebda3 Men Masr tent. This provides craftsmen and women with the opportunity to promote their handicrafts and artworks, showcasing an exciting range of products including chic handmade artworks, flamboyant crocheted goods, and delicate trinkets with pearl inlay and many other things.

In addition, ALEXBANK has provided exhibitors with technological support, enabling them to accept card payments. It waves all transaction commissions during the show, and thereafter provides highly favourable rates for all those wishing to keep these technologies to serve their businesses on a daily basis.

To keep its Facebook fans engaged during the exhibition, ALEXBANK is providing daily live coverage from the Ebda3 Men Masr tent. Cheerful presenter Ahmed El Garhy interviews the artisans themselves, discussing their lives, techniques, and products.

We are also excited to see that two of Egypt's most famous musicians are behind the cause. ALEXBANK have collaborated with Mohamed Adawya and Zap Tharwat to produce a music video which gets up-close-and-personal with the handicraft production process. This artsy video provides viewers with the opportunity to view the artisans' crafts in three minutes but in spectacular detail - think drops of colour spreading from pen tips and tracing the lines of craftsmen's hands as they spin pottery. Indeed, the song reminds us that with the palms of our hands, we can do many things - just as artisans produce some of Egypt's finest products, it only takes one small action to create effective change on a wider scale. The musicians' huge fan bases will surely help spread the message of supporting Egypt's local communities.

The event is a fantastic opportunity to start introducing Egypt's handicrafts to the international market, which will in turn increase foreign currency inflows through these goods' exportation. Last year the tent attracted a huge number of visitors, proving the potential economic prowess of Egyptian handicrafts. Talking to the artisans at the exhibition reveals the impact this initiative is having on their lives, both day-to-day and long term. Their production is getting better every day due to the increased training and support being provided, and they are working hard year-round to improve and refine their products so as to continue to reflect their best image. It is inspiring to hear artisans' ambitions to reach international markets, and enthusiasm for the initiative is palpable. "We need more initiatives and exhibitions like this to save Egyptian craftsmanship," states one artisan, "and we hope that everyone can pay us a visit to realise that products like these exist with a high level of quality on the Egyptian market."

Many of these products are now available to purchase throughout the year on the Ebda3 Men Masr online sales platform. Also check out ALEXBANK'S Facebook page to find out more about its role in the initiative.