Tony Pigott markets toys to end poverty

December 14, 2009  |  Kristin Laird  |  Comments

Tony Pigott, CEO of JWT Canada, is trying to provide a solution to global poverty, one toy at a time.

Pigott co-founded the "Toy Project" with Hollywood screenwriter and director Paul Haggis,  producer and cinematographer David Belle and Cam Brohman, a media and development expert, to help resurrect the toy making craft in the slums of Cite Soleil, Haiti.

The project is part of the Brandaid initiative that seeks to end the economic isolation of gifted, hardworking artisans in the world’s poorest countries. 

Brandaid began with "the simple insight that poverty needs marketing, that there’s great amounts of talent that are isolated or unable to find their way to market," said Pigott.

The project supports the skills, talents and cultural roots of a particular area, said Pigott. 

Cite Soleil has become so impoverished that the art of toy making has disappeared, said Pigott.  The toys (mostly cars, trucks and buses) are made from recycled materials such as tin cans salvaged from the dump.

The toys will be available within Cite Soleil, with hopes of taking the sales online.

Pigott said they would look into selling the toys internationally as collector’s items in retail locations within the coming months.

Since forming last year, Brandaid has launched two Haitian-based brands: Carnival Jakmel (paper mache) and Croix des Bouquets (metal work). 

Both collections are available for sale at

The revenues generated help fund the development of the artisan business and the training of future artists. Pigott also wants to start an educational fund, and hopes to expand the project to other impoverished areas of the world.

Brohman is unveiling models from The Toy Project at the Ghetto Biennale arts festival in the shantytown of Port au Prince, Haiti this week.

And Haggis has used his Hollywood connections to help recruit celebrity patrons including Josh Brolin, Diane Lane and Jimmy Jean Louis.

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