Activities

Fair Trade Agents buying Fair Trade Products and Promoting Sustainable Consumption

Do you know you can also be an Agent For Change by buying Fair Trade products. Fair Trade promotes Sustainable Consumption which provides dignified lives and protects the planet.

Here we are sharing the views from few of our volunteers having different educational and professional backgrounds, have to say about Fair Trade in India and what they think about the consumption of Fair Trade Products.

Buy Fair Trade Products, Be an Agent for Change

Mr. Neil Bryan
Retd. Naval Officer and Fair Trade volunteer with The Ants Craft Trust, Bangalore

I started working as a volunteer with The Ants Craft Trust in 2010 initially teaching English and Customer Relations to the staff. As time progressed I assisted in various areas as needed such as HR, Marketing and helping manage the Café at The Ants.  During my volunteer work at The Ants I have been an active advocate for Fair Trade through participating in educating the younger Indian generation during the ‘Fair Trade Awareness Program’. I did this through team presentations to students at colleges and tertiary campuses. My advocacy continues during my visits back to Australia where I spread the word about the work that The Ants and other Fair Trade organisations are doing to make a difference to the lives of the under privileged. At the Ants shop in Bangalore, I interact with the customers answering their questions on our Fair Trade products and how by buying Fair Trade products they are contributing to a great cause.

Neil (1)
Mr. Neil Bryan Retd. Naval Officer and Fair Trade volunteer with The Ants Pvt Ltd, Bangalore

My favourite Fair Trade products are clothing and home accessories these I normally purchase at The Ants Store. Other Fair Trade products I have purchased are honey from Last Forest and women’s’ clothing from Aagor Dagra Afad, Assam. I have also built up a good working relationship with fellow Indian Fair Traders mainly through attending workshops where the networking has been helpful in our communications.

I see a bright future ahead for the Fair Trade movement both globally and in the domestic Indian market. Buyers in the West are very aware about Fair Trade and a majority will actively seek out a Fair Trade shop they are aware of in their area. Indian consumers are now getting more affluent and also want to participate in ‘feel good’ causes. This will take a little longer due to the sheer population numbers who are still under the poverty line. In my opinion the best way to reach out to our consumers is through a concentrated education program pitched at the different levels of potential customers. That is, we would pitch a presentation to a younger audience different to say faces to face with an older customer in the store. We also need to build up a data base on all the demographics of our customers such as age, area, employment and awareness of Fair Trade.

Bagisha Suman, PhD Scholar, JNU

bagisha
Ms Bagisha Suman PhD Scholar, JNU, Delhi

“Getting the opportunity to do a PhD in Fair Trade is proving to be very insightful yet challenging. Challenging because in India, it’s yet to make a strong mark on the masses and insightful because this ‘silent movement’ can prove to be the solution to achieve a brighter and better India. Anyway I am yet to prove my hypothesis, but this I can truly share, that Fair Trade is a movement led by passionate people from different walks of life working for the last man in the row. Making India grow from its roots. My experience with Fair Trade has been an amazing journey. Being associated with FTF-I and interacting with various Fair Trade producers, farmers and social entrepreneurs, the learning has been wide and varied.

I am glad that I got the opportunity to explore the Fair Trade sector with help from FTF-I. I hope through my thesis I would be able to contribute something new to the movement.”

Mr. Vittorio Leproux, Project Manager, Fair Trade and International Development Expert

Mr. Vittorio Leproux,
Mr. Vittorio Leproux, Project Manager

“(…) Fair Trade organizations have to be able to keep their role of pioneers of an alternative economy while opening road to lack newcomers. In India, I said before, I trust great possibilities could be explored but it will be important to find or strengthen alliances within Indian Civil Society (ex. with Organic Movement) to have a louder voice. I believe FTF-I can reach better to the consumers by connecting it with a Fair lifestyle and with what’s happening around the globe. This, together with improvement in distribution, communication, guarantee and alliance, is a key factor.”

Jessica Oyarbide

“Getting to involve with Fair Trade in a deep level showed me a new side of India that I was not familiar with. It is really encouraging and admirable to see how many social enterprises, NGO’s and companies are working towards providing better livelihoods at the grassroots level and, at the same time, creating high quality products that compete in the conventional market. It’s upon us to help this concept spread and grow, generating impact at different levels, from mindsets to livelihoods.”

Umang Fair Trade shop in ​Ranhiket. We bought the sweaters we are wearing, apart from other products. (Jessica second from left)
Umang Fair Trade shop in ​Ranhiket. We bought the sweaters we are wearing, apart from other products. (Jessica second from left)

Mr Arghya Ghosh, Professional Designer from Kolkata, Fair Trade Consumer 

I am a Fair Trade consumer who has been buying Fair Trade products for the last 23 years from Sasha shop, Kolkata. Their careful selection of products that supports small producers ( sometime vulnerable) from across India, their story of various practices including crafts, the region and origins and the spacious display with a friendly, helpful and informed shop assistants are rare in Kolkata.

The Rasa spices are my favourite products from Sasha. This wonderful initiative of Sasha has paid tribute to the flavour of the local region and has very successfully blended to fit the taste buds of the global audience. I will always go back to Sasha for stocking my Rasa spices that I often use for gifting.

Arghya Ghosh
Mr Arghya Ghosh, Professional Designer from Kolkata, Fair Trade Consumer

“I try to spread the message of Fair Trade in my community by encouraging community members to purchase products and gifts that are Fairly Traded. I have received encouraging responses in my community. I have suggested and have escorted members from my community, which includes friends, relatives and neighbours to the Sasha shop. Since their first visit, they have become regular to the shop.

I think Sasha shop can promote the concept of Fair Trade better in the domestic market by telling stories that help consumers to connect and are more relevant in daily lives.

I wish to be more pro active in using Fairly Traded products. I would also like to encourage people around me to do the same and I will aspire to achieve this by informing people about the benefit of it. I would like to see how effective Fair Trade can be made popular as a mass movement.”

Activities

Auroville & Pondy – First Fair Trade Towns in the making

Development of rural enterprises ensures creation of wealth, affordability of better services at the bottom of the pyramid, particularly for families living below poverty line (BPL) and lead towards an inclusive growth. When such enterprises are rooted in local resources and leverage on traditional knowledge and skills, they can also ensure better resources management as well as success of the enterprise.

maroma making    Maroma women

Auroville a small township in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, are leading the way to become the first Fair Trade Township in India. With its divine roots and close to nature values, both the places are promoting fair and sustainable lives.

Auroville

Auroville, ‘the City of Dawn’, is one of those ideas (town) that anyone with idealistic leanings will love: an international community dedicated to peace, harmony, sustainable living, and ‘divine consciousness’, where people from across the globe, ignoring creed, colour and nationality, work together to build a universal, cash-free, non-religious township and realise good old human unity.

Five FTF-I member organizations – Maroma, Imagination, Mereville Trust, Aurospirul and Upasana based in Auroville, together ​provide employment to more than 500 local rural people around the village based on Fair Trade values. Using the traditional knowledge of ecology and science, these organizations make products ranging from home fragrances and body care to natural cleaners and health products like spirulina and other herbal spices. Upasana, as a natural response to the tsunami devastation in 2004 in the coastal areas of Auroville ventured into the field of social development with a strong focus on application of design for social welfare. Since then, Upasana has initiated various projects exploring the potential of Socially Responsible Design.


Aurospirual

Puducherry

If peace and a break is the most sought after, then Pondicherry is surely one of the places to live in. The town offers a unique experience with its mix of modern heritage and spiritual culture. With a predominantly historical background, Pondicherry takes one century back in time. Apart from its exquisite mixed culture, rural based organisations in Pondy provide livelihoods to the local people from the villages, using their indigenous knowledge. Two Fair Trade organisations are working towards the same goal for the last 15 years.

Auromira Exports is promoting craft that takes back to a simple and natural way of living, with the blend of traditional Indian weaving techniques and the Western influence of the German Bauhas movement. They focus on ecological production: the entire process of extraction and production of fibres. They provide work to more than 50 local producers.

Maroma nice pic      Upasana

Cottage Industries was started under the guidance of The mother, to provide Sri Aurobindo Ashram with incense sticks and mats, the surplus being distributed amongst devotees. They utilize recycled materials and integrate nature-friendly methods where possible.​

maroma 3                maroma 4

Apart from product development; the FTOs in Auroville and Puducherry are also working for community development and environmental protection. Focusing on using nature friendly raw materials and coming out with unique solutions for saving water, energy and local flora.

Activities

SETU providing sustainable growth and opportunities through Fair Trade practices

SETU a Fair Trade organisation, based in Jaipur, Rajasthan is a marketing organisation which works for the welfare and development of artisans. SETU which means ‘bridge’ in Sanskrit, is working as a medium/channel to connect artisans with the consumers.
SETU works to empower the social and economic standing of underprivileged & marginalized artisans by providing them sustainable growth opportunities through Fair Trade practices. SETU took up the role of bridging the gap and provide them with the necessary resources to produce functional goods using their traditional art. SETU helps in promoting these products in international markets as a means to achieve economic and social development for these communities.

SETU Kids

Other than helping artisans to market products, SETU is actively involved in community development activities. It regularly monitors its organisational functions to work for the socio-economic, cultural and environmental development of the people and the region. One of the dire needs of today is saving water, thereby protecting the underground water levels, which is very important for a region like Rajasthan where there is high scarcity of water. Looking at this need, SETU began a ‘Million Litre Water Saving Project in Barmer region of Rajastathan.

Water is the essence of life which has been one of the most important agenda for GOI as well as various civil society organizations. SETU, a Fair Trade marketing organization based in Jaipur, assessed the need for an intervention to solve the water crunch problem. SETU, works with artisans engaged in block printing. During printing of the fabrics, ample quantity of water is being used & wasted depending upon the volumes. This is wastage of precious natural resources, especially in desert area, where clean water is accessible only after 2-10 kilometers. SETU in 2012, developed custom machinery, especially suitable for the needs of the community which fits in a reasonable budget. The plant was installed in the first week of August 2012 at Barmer. The filtered water is being used for fabric processing & the results have been quite encouraging. No deterioration water in any property of dyed fabric was observed. It was custom made by one Ahmadabad based company, Excel Product System. After chemical analysis of water, they had suggested optimum filtration media suitable for that water. Direct beneficiaries include one group of 35 artisans and indirectly one village. SETU is expecting to save a minimum of 5 million liters of water per annum. In addition to that it will save costs & land pollution.

SETU will be pleased to support other Fair Trade Organisations by providing all the necessary technical information at best of their knowledge.

For people, planet and positive environment, SETU ensures Fair and Respectful Relationships, Economic Empowerment of the artisans, Community Development and conservation, preservation and restoration of the environment.For monitoring the growth of the organisation and the artisans as per the ten principles of Fair Trade, SETU has devised a set of guidelines which focus on- Fair Wages, Safe Workplace, Good Health Facilities, Ideal Working Hours, No Child labour, Education, No Gender Bias, Preserving the culture & traditional skills of the artisans, Environmental friendly process, Self sustainability, Social upliftment (Backward/Marginalized/special need persons), Capacity increase  in last 3 yrs, Product sustainability and Nature of Organisation. For each guiding point there are indicators. He gave an example by explaining a matrix which presented the growth of SETU calculated under each of the guiding points. For each set of guidelines, there is a rating system upto four. A group must secure min 50 points (including bonus points). This system has been effective in measuring the overall growth of the organisation and coming out with practical solutions wherever necessary. SETU has been implementing this system since 2012.

Few products from SETU

setu 1      SETU

SETU IMAGE     SETU IMAGE1

Activities

From Being an Artisan to an Entrepreneur

Beautiful wooden-lacquer toys and trinkets catch your eye not just because they are colourful but because it’s a traditional Indian craft seeing a revival. The Channapatna Toys are a special kind of wooden toys that are made in Bengaluru at a town called Channapatna. The artisans and Indian handicrafts makers create these toys and the specialty about them is that they are beautifully hand-painted. These toys will often also remind you of your own childhood because in traditional India only such kinds of toys were available. These days, however, a lot of people are again making a choice of such products for their babies. These toys are environment friendly. Once discarded, they will mingle from where they came, without even causing an inch of damage to the environment. Therefore, the parents can make a smart choice for their children.

shilpa         shilpa 1

Meet one such artisan Mr Bhupathi, who make such toys and comes from a family of professional wood carving artisans. He learnt this art from his father and thereafter under the guidance of learned scholar in the field. He has been active within India’s Fair Trade community and is himself an accomplished craftsperson. He originally learned wood carving and turning from his father Madhavachari, a state awardee. Madhavachari, a traditional wood craftsman, hailed from Tirupati, making temple chariots among other woodcraft. He, along with a few other artisan families, migrated to Bangalore in the 1960s, where they were trained by the Regional Design and Technical Development Centre.

After his marriage, Bhupathi was given responsibility of supporting his extended family. At the same time, he began to observe the business practices of retail agents in the community, and decided he wanted to bypass these intermediaries and create an organisation that would benefit the artisans. Bhupathi then established Shilpa Trust in 1992.

Shilpaaa

Shaping wood into various forms is resulting in shaping lives of numerous artisans. Shilpa Trust provides artisans with children’s educational assistance, free health check-ups, social security insurance, a loan program, skill training and product development. Being an organization formed for the upliftment of artisans both men and women without any gender discrimination SHILPA is stressing for their betterment. It is said that great artists are born, not made. Some artisans get their trade and skills from their family, who are engaged in their traditional crafts. But often, impoverished artisans need a thrust from a voluntary organisation to be successful in their craft. This is where Shilpa Trust comes in. The Trust works with economically disadvantaged artisans, many of whom have not had access to education.  The artisans are based within small workshops, many of which are family owned and quite small. These workshops produce a variety of wooden products, including toys, games and ornaments. The Trust has a workshop located in Channapatna Craft Park in Channapatna town. It provides artisans with children’s educational assistance, free health check-ups, social security insurance, a loan programme, skill training and product development.

Shilpa trains the craftspersons on how to use the new tools and in developing new designs to cater to the urban tastes and above all, enable them to market their goods profitably. As many as 360 artisans attached to Shilpa Trust are making lacquerware toys and utility items, wood carving, statues and door carving, sandalwood statues and carvings, teakwood furniture. The Trust also provides financial assistance for buying tools required by the craftspersons. Artisans are empowered by the trust by the way of marketing, certifications and product upgrade.

“Artisans should learn to change their mindset. Instead of blaming their circumstances, they should adapt themselves to the changing trends and requirements of the market,” says Bhupathi.

​The evolution from being an artisan to an entrepreneur would not have been possible without his high commitment to Fair Trade. ​

Activities

Old Age Home by Shantimalai Handicrafts Development Society

Do you want to buy products that make you feel good and appeal to your tastes? Products which are not made up of materials harmful to the environment? Shanthimalai Handicrafts is a charitable non- profit organization manufacturing and selling a wide range of eco-friendly handicraft products, clothing, soft toys and tie and dye and batik products. These are designed and created by over 300 women artisans. They offer help to villagers in the Tiruvannamalai district in India. It allows women to work close to their homes.

Old Age Home 4

These products are made with materials like palm leaves, peepal leaves, handmade paper etc. It aims to satisfy customers with its aesthetics, functionality, design and quality. At the same time it also does its bit for the society by working towards empowering women and striving to make the world a greener place.

The Shanthimalai Handicrafts Development Society addresses two important issues, one being women’s welfare and empowerment, and the other being environmental concern. It also protects Indian culture and traditions by employing them in its products. Known for its reasonable pricing, materials used and quality it has steadfastly built a loyal customer base in countries like Switzerland, Israel, USA, France and Italy!

Check out how through their old age home they are changing lives of the village women and being An Agent For Change.

DSC00004           4 (2)

Over the years, the government has launched various schemes and policies for older persons. These schemes and policies are meant to promote the health, well-being and independence of senior citizens around the country. The central government came out with the National Policy for Older Persons in 1999 to promote the health and welfare of senior citizens in India. This policy aims to encourage individuals to make provision for their own as well as their spouse’s old age. Shanthimalai, a member of FTF-I, working in Tamil Nadu detected problem of large number of windows and destitute women in the area. The windows face challenging situations, especially as they grow old.

Old Age Home 1               Old Age Home 2

Shanthimalai offers them basic training programs in handicraft works, so that they can become financially independent. They try to restore every widow’s self-respect and self-confidence as an independent parent, taking care of her children and providing help for married in emergency situations.

Old Age Home 3            Old Age Home

There is free medical treatment in the hospital of Shantimalai, along with lodging, food and medical assistance for widows in need. The old age home has 27 beds and a large garden, which provides good biological vegetables. These women also help in making the products.

Activities

Fashion with Conscience

Have you ever wondered that the rubbish and waste you throw out of your home, can be converted into products of high fashion?

Meet Conserve India & Ashoka fellow Anita Ahuja who devised a unique system of recycling to create fashion accessories exported to various countries in the world. With a motto of ‘Fashion with Conscious’ see how Conserve is working with rag pickers in Delhi & NCR to provide them sustainable livelihood.

The products of Conserve India have become Agents For Change.

Born of a desire to reduce India’s mountain of waste, improve energy efficiency and help some of Delhi’s poorest out of the city’s slums, Conserve India achieves all this by turning plastic bags into high fashion. The rag picker community is one that is underrepresented, voiceless, faceless, living on the fringes of society and yet performs an important task in the waste management process by collecting, sorting and selling plastic/recycled waste. Conserve India was set up by Shalab Ahuja and Anita Ahuja, to recycle waste in their neighborhood that was not managed by local authorities. What began as a small localized initiative has grown leaps and bounds into proven and viable model of environmental conservation, eco entrepreneurship and social enterprise.

Conserve India 1               Conserve India 2 Conserve India 3     cONSERVE iNDIA

After much experimentation, the Conserve team hit upon the idea of not recycling by washing, drying and pressing the bags into sheets. Handmade Recycled Plastic (HRP) was born and designs for handbags, wallets, shoes, and belts quickly came flooding in. the challenge was obvious. Use high fashion to support better lives for the poorest and a cleaner environment for all.

Activities

Fair Trade breaks poverty 

Press Release: Fair Trade Breaks Poverty (Anti-Poverty Week)

09th October 2015 (Culemborg) – Fair Trade breaks the chain of poverty. Fair traders around the world, together with small producers and backed by consumers, are breaking the chains of poverty. 

Fair Trade is growing and that is our proof that we are gaining our fight against extreme poverty. The WFTO membership count doubled from 155 Fair Trade organisations in 2005 to 355 in 2014. In the same period, the turnovers of these members quadrupled from 136 million euros to 448 million euros.   

To ensure their way out of poverty, producer-beneficiaries of WFTO members receive fair prices for their products, long-term income security, capacity-building and life-skills trainings, no discrimination, no slavery, and good working condition. 

“It is unacceptable that there are still over 1 billion people living in extreme poverty and deep deprivation. That is why at WFTO we fight poverty together with the small producers through sustainable solutions. The 10 Fair Trade Principles are our weapon. It is important that the eradication of poverty is done together with those affected. And with the support of consumers and businesses Fair Trade can go even further in its contribution to poverty eradication.”Rudi Dalvai, WFTO President

WFTO believes that poverty can be effectively eradicated by empowering small producers, giving them fair and sustainable means of livelihoods. 

WFTO Image

Fair Trade is a market led solution to poverty which aims to use trade, not aid, to improve livelihood of disadvantaged farmers and artisans to promote sustainability. With time it has evolved, bringing in new ideas for market development, promotion and capacity building of artisans. In today’s time, the Fair Trade producers are capable of starting their own individual brands and become successful entrepreneurs themselves. Fair Trade in India has been in existence for the last two decades. It began as a movement to providing economic livelihood to the disadvantaged communities and free them from clutches of poverty and drudgery, by using their intrinsic knowledge of art and craft.

Fair Trade Forum – India is positioned to lead the Fair Trade Movement in India. As an apex organization, FTF-I’s efforts are receiving strong support from its 122 Fair Trade partner organization, 6000 Fair Trade producer groups and 300000 micro enterprise producers. 

Fair Trade Forum-India headquarter in New Delhi, working towards policy making and advocacy in India
Fair Trade Forum-India headquarter in New Delhi, working towards policy making and advocacy in India

WFTO requires its members to comply with the 10 Fair Trade Principles through the WFTO Guarantee System, which regularly verifies organizational practices of trading organizations to ensure Fair Trade is being respected.

Products that are Guaranteed Fair Trade can be recognized by the WFTO Product Label. Products carrying the WFTO Label are made and traded by Guaranteed Fair Trade Organizations dedicated to the sustainable Fair Trade economy. Every purchase of products with the WFTO Label supports small producers and their communities.

Notes to Editors:

The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is a global network of organizations from over 75 countries across Africa and Middle East, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and the Pacific Rim, representing the entire Fair Trade supply chain. Membership of WFTO provides Fair Trade organizations with credibility and identity by way of an international guarantee system; a place of learning where members connect with like-minded people from around the world; tools and training to increase market access; and a common voice that speaks out loudly about Fair Trade. WFTO is the home of fair traders: producers, marketers, exporters, importers, wholesalers and retailers that demonstrate 100% commitment to Fair Trade and apply the 10 Principles of Fair Trade of WFTO in their daily operations. The works and achievements of its members make WFTO a global authority on Fair Trade and a guardian of Fair Trade values and principles.

The coming years will witness a whole variety of products carrying the WFTO Product Label, from handicrafts, to fashion, to food products.

WFTO Logo

Behind the Product Label is a revolutionary Fair Trade system – the WFTO Guarantee System. Consistent with the goal of Fair Trade, which is to enable producers to improve their livelihoods and communities through trading within agreed set of principles, WFTO’s route to equity in trade is ensuring that organisations follow the WFTO’s 10 Principles of Fair Trade.

The WFTO Guarantee System is based on time-tested best practices of Producer Group Internal Control System (ICS), Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) and WFTO membership system experience. To learn more of the WFTO Guarantee System, visit our website www.WFTO.com.

For interviews and other queries, please contact WFTO

Michael Sarcauga, Communications Coordinator

E: Michael@wfto.com T: +31345535914.