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Fair Trade Producers in India


Artisan's Effort

Artisans Effort is a small grass roots group of artists and craft workers who joined together in Kolkata in October 2003 to incorporate fair trade principles. They had found that supplying their products to other local exporters kept them in a cycle of irregular work, difficulty in receiving payments and poor treatment overall. They learnt about Fair Trade and knew that it could bring many benefits to them as a group, including good relationships between themselves and their overseas buyers.

Although small, Artisans Effort is now supplying several international Fair Trade outlets in Europe and USA. They support school children for their education expenses and continue to train disadvantaged people who demonstrate a talent for the crafts they produce. There are more than 150 families attached to Artisans Effort and they feel that their lives have been improved by working together in this manner. Ultimately they wish to provide long term security for their artisans and have goals to expand their premises in Kolkata and one day build a school for poor and needy children.

Equitable Marketing Association

Equitable Marketing Association was formed in 1977 and is a registered society owned by its members, who are craftspersons, farmers, crafts families and staff members.

EMA aims to enable assurance of income and security. Support is given to members by way of product design, quality advice, training and production, management, procurement of raw materials, packaging and marketing.

The EMA development centre at Baruipur outside Kolkata has incorporated in its own design solar power for cooking, heating and hot water and biodynamic farming techniques. These techniques are demonstrated then to local farmers to encourage environmentally friendly and sustainable agriculture and small cottage industry.

EMA are a member of WFTO•The World Fair Trade Organisation.

Kala Raksha

The Kala Raksha trust is a grassroots social enterprise dedicated to the preservation of traditional arts.

Comprising artisans, community members and experts in the fields of art, design and museums, Kala Raksha was founded in 1993 in the desert region of Kutch, India.

Its work began with 20 soof embroiderers who had migrated from Sindh and has grown to over 500 women from seven different communities, all traditional artisans from relatively marginalized populations.

Zaida Crafts

Founded by husband and wife team Isaq from Kashmir and Maria from Ireland, Zaida work in Kashmir with independent village producer groups to utilise traditional craft skills and values with Western contemporary design. Chainstitch work is carried out by the village men between the cycles of planting and harvest. The craft earns money for clothing, school books and shoes, medical expenses, weddings and funerals. Most of Zaida's craftspeople live and work in a village near Anantnag, and area affected by the border dispute between India and Pakistan.

Maria and Isaq are documenting and researching the lives of their craftspeople and are investigating opportunities to help their families further in the future. They currently pay their artisans above the rate set by the Chainstitch Workers Association with orders paid for in advance. Zaida have fair trade principles at the core of everything they do.

Silence

In 1979 a small group of deaf artists in Kolkata grouped together to establish Silence. Originally given some support by well wishers and funding agencies Silence is immensely proud that for the past 10 years the organization has been self sufficient.

Silence not only create craft products, they also train disabled people in Information Technology and data entry. They employ around 100 people, 75% of whom are handicapped. Employees receive a salary, superannuation, life and health insurance and a canteen at the workshop in South Kolkata provides a meal each day. This employment and self-sufficiency is tremendously important to the disabled person and their families, many of whom would suffer tremendous hardship and difficulties without it.

Silence has won several national and international awards for their work.

KHAMIR Craft Resource Centre

KHAMIR Craft Resource Centre Khamir ( Kutch Heritage, Arts, Music, Information and Resources ) is a joint initiative of the Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan, the Nehru Foundation for Development and the Confederation of Indian Industry for setting up an education, training, demonstration and interpretation facility in the areas of craft, environment and heritage conservation.

The word Khamir in Kutchhi means intrinsic pride – reflecting the spirit of the land and its people.

The Khamir Craft Resource Centre ( CRC ) was set up to specifically look at craft livelihoods after the devastating 2001 earthquake. On the morning of January 26 a massive earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale rocked the desert. Kutch was at the epicenter of the quake that completely destroyed over 400 villages and killed more than 25,000 people.

Kutch has a rich tradition of craft. Embroidery, weaving, block printing, leather, metal and pottery are traditional skills practiced by over 40% of the communities.

The CRC has started working with the main objective of revitalizing the crafts of the Kutch region. It is an attempt to ensure that the practice of craft skills will result in sustainable incomes.

Shrujan

Shrujan began in 1969 in response to a famine relief project in the Kutch desert area of Gujarat, India. It has grown from the initial small group of Ahir women to 3000 women across 100 villages utilising 16 different styles of embroidery.

Shrujan is a not-for-profit trust with income generated being returned to the project. The trust provides all the materials and pays the women immediately on completion of each piece of embroidery. At a village level, production is managed by nominated women who in turn train younger women in business skills.

Since 1969 Shrujan has trained over 18,000 women. Economic empowerment and national recognition for their work has transformed their lives and those of their families. The trust has also built houses for nomadic communities, organised cattle and health camps, and carried out relief work during droughts, floods and cyclones - and the devastating 2001 Kutch earthquake.

KMVS-Qasab

Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS) is an organisation of rural women from the Kutch desert region of Gujarat, India. KMVS has 12000 members of which around 1200 are traditional craftswomen, organised and operating as self sustaining producer groups. Their sustained efforts over the last decade has helped these women, their families and communities extricate themselves from a vicious downward spiral of commercial exploitation by middlemen and traders. Each craftswoman now receives a fair price for her work and the producer group also receives a percentage, which is apportioned to social and health needs and shared amongst all members as a dividend. Together these groups embroider, design, innovate, produce and market – as highly respected master artisans, not lowly paid piece rate workers.

As well as handicraft production KMVS organises programs in natural resource management, education for women and girls, health education, family planning and legal support and runs a radio broadcast in tribal dialect, a newsletter, a screen printing unit and a savings and credit program.

On the morning of January 26 2001 a massive earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale rocked the desert. Kutch was at the epicenter of the quake that completely destroyed over 400 villages and killed more than 25,000 people. The structure provided by KMVS was essential for the women to begin the difficult task of rebuilding lives. United, they supported each other in their loss and returned to their embroidery work as quickly as possible.

'All we need is a needle and thread to return to work'.

Sasha

Established in 1978 Sasha, a Kolkata based non-profit marketing organization brings together more than 150 groups of craftspersons and producers from all over the country. Sasha has worked hard to revive several traditional Indian crafts ensuring dignity and self reliance for craftspeople, particularly the eastern states of India. They have also created an Enterprise Development Foundation to initiate, nurture and sustain small enterprises and catalyse entrepreneurship.

In addition to their work with craftspeople Sasha are undertaking community development projects in the areas of health, education, agriculture and natural resource in several areas.

Sasha founded the Fair Trade Forum of India and are a member of the WFTO - The World Fair Trade Organisation.

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