Eastern Rinok is a project designed to help Ukrainian artists and entrepreneurs sell their handmade goods using the online sales platform, Etsy.
Ukrainian artists of all backgrounds and influences interested in selling their handmade products are trained by Ukrainian trainers, in conjunction with Peace Corps Volunteers.The artists go through a 5-part training that teaches business skills as well as the technical specifics of the Etsy platform. Once the artists are certified members of the Eastern Rinok team, they benefit from the support of the Eastern Rinok community around the world.
The project was started in 2012 as the brainchild of Peace Corps Volunteers David Malenfant and Stuart King, and Ukrainian artist Sveta (Maiurenko) Malenfant. As of July 2014, Eastern Rinok artists have sold over 350 products on Etsy, yielding over $11,000 sales!
This project has made a measurable economic and social impact on the lives of Eastern Rinok artists: one artist has even donated some of her earnings to improve a school in her local community.
Although Peace Corps Volunteers are not currently in Ukraine, the project is still going strong. There are a total of 22 active Eastern Rinok artisans, including two who have joined the team post- Peace Corps evacuation. Eastern Rinok also benefits from the strong support of Returned PCV’s, their families, and the willingness of Ukrainian artists and trainers to help each other, even if they have never met before in-person.
The future is bright for this terrific project!