The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Etsy and Microfinance

A quick browse through reveals an eclectic mix of items — handmade starfish hair clips, boho tribal scarves, Disney ‘Frozen’ Anna wigs, Snoopy iPhone decals and vintage 70’s sequin pants.

One common thread that runs through all these unique products is the fact that they are all handmade — not by any arbitrary person, but by the seller themselves.

The online store Etsy was launched in 2005 by CEO Chad Dickerson. Besides being an e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items, Etsy offers a new twist on the typical e-commerce platform— all items are produced and marketed by individual users.

***As of August 2013, 30 million users are registered on the website, and there has been over $1 billion in total annual transactions. In order to sell products on Etsy, users must create a username and have the option to create a shop name. While creating a shop on Etsy is free of charge, each listing that is posted under the shop costs $0.20. Furthermore, the sale prices of products are determined by the shop owner, but Etsy claims 3.5 percent of the sale price of each listing.

Junior Yamini Kukreja, an avid crocheter, uses the profits she gains from selling her crochet items through Etsy((link to her shop)) to fund a microfinance project on KIVA. is a nonprofit, microcredit financing organization that allows people to lend money through the internet to impoverished entrepreneurs in over 70 countries.

“I had been thinking about [Etsy] for a long time,” Kukreja said. “But it wasn’t until last summer when I seriously decided to set up a shop.”

Inspired by Kiva’s noble mission, Kukreja has used her profits to help women living in villages throughout sub-Saharan Africa purchase cattle and materials for agricultural farming. What once started out as a casual activity done just for fun has turned Kukreja into a full-fledged businesswoman and philanthropist.

“My grandma taught me how to crochet; it’s just one of the things you do with your grandparents.” Kukreja said. “When I began to learn, I never thought about making money off of my products.”

So what’s her strategy?

Kukreja said, “I write down the patterns, sell the patterns; it’s pretty easy money.”

Etsy appeals to Kukreja because of the versatility and flexibility the site offers. There are no set rules, or set designs for users to follow when creating their handmade products.

“More than making stuff, I like designing my own stuff,” Kukreja said. “I can’t use [other people’s] patterns because I get really frustrated and I don’t like to follow the rules.”

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