Inspiration for NOVICA's
social mission comes
The idea for NOVICA came to co-founder
Roberto Milk in a flash of inspiration during a
Portuguese language class at Stanford in 1995.
The sudden death of his Portuguese Professor several weeks later
made this fledgling idea all
the more important.
Affirmation the idea was good
comes from Mina Olivera
Roberto's girlfriend (now wife), and
her mother, Armenia Nercessian
who was then a Human Rights
Officer with the United Nations.
Confidence to push forward with
NOVICA also came from a strong
family heritage of championing
social causes and artisanship, along
with enthusiastic support from
The 3 Amigos!
"If Rob gets it started,
I'll consider leaving
the UN to help
, an early
for the idea,
is now the face of
With our team of dreamers
assembled, our mission was now
clear - we were going to reinvent
the import / export process for
artisans and find a better way
sell their products to the world.
We incubated the idea for 5 years
and launched NOVICA in 1999.
Co-founder Jose Cervantes
a prestigious consulting
job to start NOVICA's Mexico
office in his grandmother's
Co-founder Michael Burns
joins us in 1999 as one of our
1st investors, and becomes a
rainmaker to secure key
funding and partnerships.
By mid-summer 1999 we launch
our 1st 4 regions, and over 200 artisan groups
start to sell their products on the website!
In July 1999 it was time to celebrate - But only for a moment!
Our new office in Brazil hosts an incredible gathering of
investors and new team members from around the world
for the wedding of Roberto and Mina in Rio!
After the wedding it's back to work. In
the last half of
1999 we open 2 more
offices in Thailand and Indonesia,
relationships with over 300
additional artisan groups.
Scripps Ventures invests in NOVICA's first
round, providing capital for
a large ad campaign. NOVICA
soon appear throughout New York City.
This captures the attention of National
think our ads look a
little too much like their famous
border. They ask us to use other colors.
Soon after, National Geographic
board as a major investor, giving
NOVICA instant brand
and allowing us to reach a wider
of art and culture lovers.
Our India region
opens in July 2000,
our total region count to 7!
Extensive coverage of our
innovative business model by
outlets such as NPR
on Los Angeles Times
exposure to artisans.
Investments and grants from the IFC,
a member of the World Bank Group,
wraps up the first wave of funding in 2003.
By November 2003, we
have sent $5 million to
around the world!
As we hit the $5M mark,
artists like Ney Cardoso
(pictured left) celebrate
feeling of pride that their
work is being
so many people around
the world. The
system is a success - and
the impact is clear!
In 2006 we begin selling
giving NOVICA artisans
GROWTH & CONSOLIDATION
2003 - 2009
Our lean start-up philosophy helps us
weather the dot-com
crash and build a
rock-solid foundation that sees us
the recession of 2008.
Failure was not an option...
depended on us!
In 2004 Armenia meets
Liz Gilbert and they have
in Bali (later, Armenia
was featured in
book, Eat, Pray Love
By October 2009, we have
sent $25 million to
around the world!
In 2010, contributions
from customers and
help us open an office
bringing the total to
8 NOVICA regions!
In November 2011, the HQ team in Santa Monica
milestone for the new microcredit
With help from customers we raise over $100,000 in
space of a week. This provides hundreds of artisans with
0% interest loans, with which they can use to buy
for restocking before the busy holiday season.
In June 2012, we partner with Kiva to
expand our existing
program, giving our artisans access to
1 million lenders, and raising
over $240,000 at 0% interest
in the first 12 months!
In November 2012, we teamed up with
our friends at National Geographic
to run our first ever
curation contest - with a trip to Machu
Picchu as the grand prize!
In October 2013, our winning curator, Jenni Siri
) travels to Peru with
Geographic expeditions. While there,
she stops by our
office in Lima to meet some of
the artisans she has
impacted. Jenni is pictured
here with ceramic artisan Ubaldina Paucar
In 2014 we launch our enhanced
mission to spread happiness around
In the coming years we are looking
forward to growth, happiness and
ever increasing levels of artisan
By June 2014, we have sent $50 million to artisans around the world!