With everyone with a business rushing to join the digital revolution, what happens to local businesses where they are passionately dedicated to creating a masterpiece? Given the fast-moving business world, these entrepreneurs may find themselves torn between perfecting their craft and urgently generating an income. Before the pandemic, earning a living was simple. Where there are sellers, there are buyers. Most transactions were direct and personal.

As the world was stricken by the pandemic, businesses were forced to go digital or close shop. Artisanal businesses in Malaysia were badly affected as their crafts are meant to be seen and felt in person for people to appreciate the products. As such, Malaysia Design Development Centre (DDEC) launched an e-marketplace called arTsen, to support artisanal businesses to expand their visibility into the digital world.

Whereas businesses that may not have the budget to go full-fledged online can consider joining e-marketplace platforms that are readily available today. However, specific business owners may be looking for a niche digital presence that jives with their vibes. It is a specific business choice and it ensures their digital presence hits the right target market. Of course, promoting the business comes as a no-brainer.

Many buyers are more comfortable with online purchasing. Thus, arTsen by DDEC is the e-marketplace for Malaysian artisan entrepreneurs to sell their products. DDEC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) and is a preferred one-stop design centre for Malaysian entrepreneurs. DDEC’s agenda has always been to assist in commercialising local businesses through design and creativity.

The arTsen difference

arTsen sets itself apart from other e-marketplace due to the fact that other online giants are selling mass-market products. At arTsen, the approach is specifically to focus on promoting and selling Malaysian grown unique items. Furthermore, arTsen is a curated e-marketplace. Curated means that all aspects of the design process are being controlled and monitored by in-house resources to meet specific standards.

This process is to ensure that both buyers and sellers get to experience the arTsen difference as an e-marketplace. Besides, the platform does not charge any entrance fee. However, to ensure the platform’s long-term sustainability, a negotiation on sales profit sharing will take place between platform owner and sellers.

The arTsen sellers

Our sellers or merchant partners are local entrepreneurs from the artisanal community. They either belong to one of the four categories within arTsen namely; food & beverage, health & wellness, fashion & lifestyle and home decor. As Malaysia boasts of multicultural backgrounds, artisan communities are an abundance as they are keen makers and designers of products rooted in Malaysia’s cultural heritage and tradition.

ArTsen sellers may carve, paint, sew or produce modern or traditional bites for a living. They could also be talented students, lawyers, doctors or homemakers producing artistic creations in their spare time. ArTsen sellers can also be artisan co-operatives, community based organisations or social entrepreneurs.

The arTsen buyers

At most, e-marketplace aim to sell to all. arTsen aims to attract discerning buyers who purchase and use these products with soul in their lives. Besides buying for the function of the product, our buyer partners are buyers who appreciate the stories behind each product. In order to ensure cultural heritage and tradition carries on into the following generation, each product would have an accompanying story with it. In a way, it makes the process of preserving the tradition an interesting one.

They are also passionate about items being handmade and locally sourced. Most artisanal creations are made of locally sourced materials. An artisanal product would have a distinguished touch as artisans create them one piece at a time. The labour of love is what makes each item a special masterpiece for both parties to make and to own. These buyers are also empathetic towards home-grown businesses and gladly support local brands.

arTsen in the future

With digital businesses making its mark in our world today, arTsen is committed to building long lasting relationships with our partners to ensure their online presence. DDEC has invested and will continue to invest in technology, creative resources and existing good relationships with government agencies to support local artisanal businesses.

For a relatively new e-marketplace, arTsen already has plans for the future. Among them are, reaching out to rural communities where there are rich handicrafts and arts made by community artisans and craftsmen. arTsen will continue to support merchants with training and match them with soft loans or grants from relevant government agencies. We are also planning to form a business partnership with domestic and international discerning markets for our merchants' products.

When arTsen calls

arTsen is always open to Malaysians to join in and become part of the community. We are also inviting all Malaysians who have turned their passions into a supplement for their livelihood. We are all out in supporting local artisans and their respective brands to local markets and beyond. DDEC being a government agency under Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) is determined to support local artisanal businesses to turn their craft into a profitable lifeline. If you know of any artisans who might be interested or you are interested in joining arTsen, give DDEC a call for further information and clarification.