Egyptian potters from rural cluster celebrate great success with their new products after UNIDO training

Discover How a UNIDO Program Transformed a Traditional Egyptian Pottery Village into a Thriving Artistic Hub

The joint programme Employment for Youth in Egypt (EYE): Providing a Reason to Stay”, funded by the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS) and jointly implemented by ILO, UNIDO and UNDP in cooperation with the Egyptian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA), concluded its successful implementation last month. The programme put particular emphasis on creating decent job opportunities in the Menoufia and Qalubiya Governorates in the Nile Delta Region of Egypt as well as enhancing young people’s job, life, and entrepreneurship skills. Among its many beneficiaries were potters from a traditional cluster in the Grace Village, Menoufia.  

Prior to the UNIDO intervention, the pottery industry was not doing well in the village as the cluster members did not modernize and concentrated on the same low-cost products they have been producing for years. Despite growing up helping their parents in their pottery work, the young villagers were not eager to choose the craft as their future profession. However, a study conducted on the cluster confirmed the potential for growth if the potters would move from their current products to medium-/high-end ones over the next five years. Supported by these findings, UNIDO conducted a capacity-building programme aiming to revive the cluster. 

Over several months, the potters of the Grace village learned about the current pottery market features and the pottery products preferred by the modern consumers. The training enhanced the participants’ practical knowledge and skills in order to expand their business vision, develop new products, and access alternative market channels and financial schemes. As a result, for the very first time selected cluster members were able to present their products to the visitors of the Turathna Exhibition in Cairo on 8-14 October 2023, a yearly exhibition helping small handicraft producers preserve the Egyptian traditional crafts by promoting them to the local and international audience.

“The Grace villagers enhanced their ability to implement modern designs, set the right price for their products, ensure the quality, and pay more attention to the packaging. Then it was time to build economic partnerships through exhibitions like Turathna,” said Ms. Akila Rifaat who was responsible for the training. 

Ms. Rifaat explained that the preparations for the exhibition had begun three months in advance, starting with a training in the implementation of special, modern pottery designs. “Among dozens of families, five families from the village showed great enthusiasm to participate with 160 artistic pieces of pottery”, she said. 

Indeed, the beneficiaries succeeded to attract the attention of the exhibition visitors. Three famous galleries in Cairo showed interest in establishing partnerships with the cluster. At the same time, professional international buyers from the Netherlands and Canada expressed their admiration for the products and their desire to make deals for exporting. The opportunity provided by the UNIDO training also inspired some of the young members of the cluster, thus contributing to the efforts of the EYE programme to promote to the youth the existing job opportunities in their communities. 

“I cannot wait to return to my village after the exhibition to share what I have learned with my family and relatives”, said Mohamed, 17 years old and the youngest training participant. He added that the financial revenues from the exhibition could not be compared with those before the UNIDO training: “We achieved high profits every day”.  


To learn more about the Grace pottery cluster, check out their Facebook page: