I would like to share our success story under my leadership at Shop for Change Fair Trade. I took charge of the organisation as CEO and Executive Director in September 2015. At the same time, we started working with traditional business house involved in canvas / nonwoven bag manufacturing. Assured business opportunities and consistent follow-up are showing results. Approximately 60 artisans will witness the change in their life just in 1 year which they never experienced earlier for past 2 decades.
Shop for Change Fair Trade decided to work in canvas bag segment in May 2014. Since then SFC was interviewing a lot of business house across India. It was not easy as very few people shown interest to work with fair trade guidelines. After more than year’s search we came across a group based in Sangli, who is involved in the traditional business of canvas and non-woven bag manufacturing with social vision in mind.
The entrepreneur behind this business house was really got connected with cause and immediately accepted the concept of fair trade. The unit is based in outskirts of Sangli. More than 50 people are employed in the unit among which more than 50% are women. Around 200 women staying nearby, get the opportunity to work from home, for more than 7-8 months in a year through this unit.
Skilled stitching women now earn around Rs.8000-10000 a month whereas unskilled women earn Rs. 4000-5000 a month. All employees are covered under Government insurance scheme. The entire unit follows 8 hours shift timing and after that, they get over time.
Shop for Change is working with this unit since October 2015 and trying to implement the concept of fair trade. Although the unit is good in paying their employees still SFC was not 100% satisfied with working condition as it was even difficult to convince employees to sit in the separate area for lunch etc. This was not an easy task but consistent follow-up and assured business opportunities made it very easy and really boost the moral of this group. Business owner decided to go with 100% Fair Trade norms by October 2016. The group is constructing new unit with complete Fair Trade norms as, separate gents and ladies toilet, separate pantry area for workers, separate changing room with locker facility for ladies staff and complete air conditioned unit for stitching and finishing area.
Thanks to DHL, Edelweiss, Marriott, Goqii and Godrej Nature’s Basket, we started and achieved capacity building stage for this group but was very difficult to explain them the need of hygiene and sanitation. The opportunity which you shared with us not only generated additional income to artisans but also going to change their working conditions.
Fair trade is my mission, not just a profession.
Saameer Ravindra Athavale
CEO – Executive Director