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.
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, ‘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.
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.
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.
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.