PEOPLink.org, a nonprofit organization that works with artisans in developing countries, will gradually pull back from selling the artisans' work on its site and instead will help the artisans develop their own Web sites.
The flagship of this effort will be CatGen, catalog-generating software now in its final test stage and set to launch next month.
“CatGen will allow anybody in the world to download the software program [available at www.CatGen.com] for free, enter their product information, then upload their database to the CatGen server,” said PEOPLink founder Daniel Salcedo. “We will generate their catalogs on the Internet for up to 25 products.”
PEOPLink will charge a small fee for additional products, Salcedo said. Trading partners will do the shipping and will update their catalogs, but Salcedo is not sure yet who will accept payment and guarantee security.
With PEOPLink no longer in the middle, the nonprofit will be able to take a smaller fee, Salcedo said, “because we don't have to physically manage the products.”
Last year, PEOPLink's gross sales were $75,000; this year, Salcedo expects that amount to double. “We get 3,000 to 4,000 hits per day,” he said.
While fees pay for the online catalog, most of the operating costs are covered by grants.