Asha Handicrafts was founded in 1975 and is….”a brand with a hope for artisans from India, where ideas are hand-crafted into beautiful and luxurious lifestyle products.”
Their vision and mission is…. “to provide marketing support to our artisans through a sustainable global market and help them to preserve the art and craft of India”.
Asha Handicrafts was begun with the mandate to “trade, train, and transform.”
Even its name (Asha means “hope” in Sanskrit) inspires a new, hopeful Fair Trade model for doing business.
Based in Thane Palghar, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, which is on the west coast of India, north of Mumbai.
As a social enterprise, all the profits are ploughed back towards the social welfare of the artisans and their families.
They specialise in traditional Indian crafts such as:
••• Crafting Wood, ceramic & a wide range of textile decorative products.
••• Paper mache makers in Kashmir in the north
••• Leather workers of Calcutta in the east
••• Tribal women of Gujarat in the West embroidering on cotton
••• Wood workers
••• Brass workers
••• Silver smiths
Their philosophy is simple – “produce fantastic, ethically sourced yet commercial products to maximise sales
while maximising benefits to both our artisans and customers”.
Their inspiration is the highly-skilled artisans who give life to so many beautiful products.
They work with more than 800 artisans around the country – 225 are women & this figure is growing – across 60 co-operatives & production units and
they support the education of 100 artisan`s children via
“Tuition Projects” which are helping children stay in school & complete their education.
HOW ASHA DIRECTLY HELPS THE ARTISANS….
Asha works to ensure that benefits of handicraft production reach the craftspeople themselves.
Asha promotes sustainability and helps eliminate producer debt through direct purchases and advance payments.
Producer benefits include educational assistance for children, medical checkups and treatment,
a health centre at Saharanpur, savings programs for artisans and spouses, non-formal education projects and relief–related social projects.
Other benefits include interest-free loans, business and computer training, and advances to purchase raw materials.
Asha fosters Fair Trade practices to aid marginalised and small-scale handicraft producers.
It is a single organisation, but has two distinct divisions:
One is engaged in trading and other is
the “Resource Centre” that oversees welfare programs, training activities as well as crafts promotion and producer development.
Asha provides business counselling and financial support to producers to enable them to reduce their lead times,
improve quality control & increase production capacity.
Under welfare projects they also provide health services & improve living conditions of the artisans.
Asha gives the artisans an opportunity to improve their living standards and continue with their livelihoods – the tradition of Indian Crafts.
Small scale handicraft producers are disadvantaged because they lack financial awareness and knowledge of promotional and management skills.
By purchasing directly from artisan groups and offering advance payments on orders,
Asha tries to increase the income levels of producer groups and artisans and prevent them from accumulating long-term debts.
Asha Handicrafts is a WFTO – Guaranteed Fair Trade member.
Your purchases create income and social reform for hundreds.
A MESSAGE FROM THE C.E.O….
A quote from Asha’s Chief Executive Officer, Rajesh Kumar…..
“To me, fair trade is sustainability.
Massive companies with huge resources have come and gone, but we are still here
and that’s all down to sustainability; a small organisation who have a relatively small turnover
are employing and developing 800 people, solely because of sustainability.
Fair trade is when every single like-minded person in the supply chain
work together for a common goal – and that’s why it’s sustainable – but we need more people
to adopt this way of thinking in order for fair trade to continue.”
Thank you for reading – Paul