Global Gifts sources a variety of products from our Asian artisan group partners, including textiles, ceramics, laquerware, jewelry and more. These are just a few of the artisan groups with whom we work:
Aid Though Trade, Nepal
While volunteering in the late 80's as a teacher in the Peace Corps, Damian Jones became inspired by the artisans of the Kathmandu Valley and intrigued by the use of glass beads in the Nepalese culture. Damian visited many artisans and artisan groups in various regions of Nepal, and observed the artisans as they created unique jewelry designs. Damian recognized that although the designs varied from place to place, there was one undeniable constant across all villages: women’s lives changed dramatically when they had an income.
25 years later Aid Through Trade is a leader in the fair trade fashion industry and employs over 200 women artisans in Nepal. artisan is provided with a fair income, benefit, and a safe and healthy work environment. Additional benefits include afternoon yoga, daily meals, a retirement fund and a work-from-home-program.
One of our greatest powers as consumers in the western world is how we choose to spend our money. At Aid Through Trade™ they have built their entire organization with that in mind. Every Aid Through Trade™ product is handmade with love in Nepal™ and each purchase directly supports their commitment to empowering the lives of women through ethical, fair, and sustainable employment.
Sasha Craft Producers, India
Over the years, Sasha has worked towards addressing these issues. Sasha has worked towards developing craft communities so that their skills and creativity find expression, recognition and fulfillment. They work with over a hundred artisan groups producing a variety of craft products ranging from metal ware to textiles. Sasha represents crafts producers from rural and semi-urban areas, mostly in eastern India, who benefit from health campaigns, improved working conditions, and stable incomes.Sasha's unique model of organizing groups into larger craft consortiums means that groups specializing in different aspects of textiles, such as embroidery, printing, and tailoring, combine their skills to make unique products that are exported around the world and also sold in their own store in Kolkata.
Sasha's success has been in combining community development with handcraft marketing. The non-profit marketing arm finds needed outlets for handcrafts, while capacity building and other development projects are coordinated by the Sasha Enterprise Development Foundation.
The sustained work of Sasha Craft Producers has helped to revive dying arts and skills, provide artisans with a livelihood, and revitalize craft communities.
Asha Imports, India
The mission of Asha Imports is to be a voice for people who have no voice. Our focus in business is to bring hope to the poor and oppressed people of our world; in fact, the Hindi word "Asha" means hope. We distribute products made by people who have been given a chance to rise above their circumstances and reclaim their humanity.
Bringing Hope to women in the sex trade
In Southeast Asia, there are many people who suffer through poverty-stricken lives. Many times, poverty and cultural demands cause women to turn to the sex trade. We are partnering with individuals in Calcutta, India to help these women realize that there is a better future for them, that they do not have to live their lives selling their bodies. The hope that is brought to these women is that they can make a choice. One of these choices is making jute bags and saris. For women who choose to get out of the sex trade, they have the opportunity to be employed and make jute bags, receive a fair wage, and change their lives tremendously.
Bringing Hope to people in the slums
Because of low income levels in Southeast Asia, many people are forced to live in slums. It is estimated that 30% of people living in Calcutta, India are living in the slums. Many people cannot find jobs because of the numerous cultural and economic hindrances. People that reside in the slums may have skills, but they are unable to market their abilities. We are involved with organizations that employ people out of the slums in India. They are taught tailoring skills as well as various other skills that can be used to support their families.
Bringing Hope to the poor
The problem of world poverty is not only a daunting issue, it is a way of life for a countless number people. Obviously, there is no quick fix to poverty, but there are ways to help tip the scale back in favor of the poor. Our goal is to bring hope to the poor through international business, one person at a time. The exploitive view of business that so many Western companies have adopted is not the only aspect of international trade. Business can be used to bring people out of their impoverished situations. The distributing of products that are made by these beautiful people is what we are all about. Join with us in bringing hope to the poor.
Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts, Vietnam
Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts is a nonprofit organization that provides income generation and marketing services to Vietnamese artisans.
Mai Handicrafts runs several craft production projects and markets the work of numerous other craft producers. During recent years, Mai Handicrafts has established itself as the primary marketing agent for artisans from neglected families and for women. It practices a model of social development in which social service cannot be separated from economic self-reliance. Mai Handicrafts sales fund various community development activities, including clean water projects, vocational training equipment purchase and teacher wage subsidies. Mai Handicrafts artisans receive social and health insurance, and can apply for scholarship funds.
Some of the proceeds from handicrafts sales continue to fund the program for street children out of which Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts originated. The organization originally worked with children who could not go to school due to lack of legal papers and inability to pay tuition. Mai Handicrafts provided informal literacy classes.
Global Gifts purchases dolls, nativities, baskets, coiled bamboo items, lacquerware, wooden frogs, ceramics, purses, table runners, placemats, napkins, and cushions from Mai Vietnamese Handcrafts.
Noah's Ark International Exports, India
Noah's Ark is a fair trade handicraft marketing organization in Moradabad, India. Most of the jewelry artisans are women, who benefit from the fact that they can work from home and maintain their responsibilities for children and household.
Noah's Ark provides benefits such as education and medical treatment for artisans and their families. Noah’s Ark also works to empower artisans at the workshop level, and regularly provides low or no interest loans to help with infrastructure upgrades and other business needs. As artisan businesses become more self-sufficient, Noah's Ark takes on new families. Since the company's inception, about 20 artisan workshops have become independent. Recently, Noah’s Ark has also started a small school for artisans’ children who might otherwise have little opportunity for education.
Noah's Ark started in 1986, in one room of a family house in Moradabad. Businessman Samuel Masih observed that exporters and middlemen were taking advantage of handicraft artisans, exploiting them as if they were bonded laborers. He started Noah's Ark to promote these artisans and their crafts. Masih invested the earnings into infrastructure and equipment for underprivileged artisans, into training and into marketing their products. Noah’s Ark is a member of the International Fair Trade Association (IFAT). Ninety percent of their sales are to IFAT members.
Global Gifts purchases jewelry and metal items from Noah’s Ark through our wholesale partner Ten Thousand Villages.
Trade Alternative Reform Action (TARA), India
Working in a 125-mile radius of Delhi, TARA is a fair trade program for community development and business, enabling hundreds of artisans who create some of the major handicraft lines of North India to sell their products internationally.
TARA is one of the pioneering Indian organizations in the field of fair wages, nonformal education programs for children and women, health and environmental awareness and further development for its member artisans. Artisan benefits from TARA include medical insurance, interest-free loans and advances, a savings program, and skills training.
TARA Projects was established in 1973 to defend the rights of the poor. Beginning in Delhi, the organization expanded to adjoining states of North India, working to eliminate unfair trade practices and child labor, fighting exploitation of artisans and supporting fair trade and human dignity. TARA Projects, one of the largest fair trade organizations in India, is a member of Fair Trade Forum India and the International Fair Trade Association.
Mata Traders, India
A love affair with India eventually evolved into Mata Traders – a design driven, fair trade brand helping to end global poverty and inspire ethical companies and consumers to change the fashion industry. Made by artisans in India and Nepal, their colorfully original designs are now sold in 50 states and 12 countries, and provide a stable source of income for families in some of the world’s poorest communities.
Mata Traders' garments are individually stitched in small workshops, with one seamstress creating an entire garment rather than being part of a production line. Many Mata styles are then carefully finished with hand embroidery in the women’s own homes. Their training starts with hand sewing, moving on to simple machine patterns, like bags, and eventually mastering the sewing machine. Showing leadership skills offers the women a chance to become head of their sewing group or get promoted to positions like trainer, quality checker, materials buyer, or assistant production manager. In a country as socially stratified as India, this type of social mobility in the workplace is a rarity.
The women at the co-ops earn a fair wage that exceeds the local minimum wage. They are paid per piece so the amount each artisan makes varies. The benefit of this system is the flexibility it allows in terms of hours (some women work part-time or from home) and skill level (slower sewers aren’t fired for low productivity, as they would in a factory). The women exercise control in determining the piece rate, and as the cooperatives are worker-owned organizations, they receive a share of the profits.
The artisan cooperatives are similar to social service agencies in the support they provide to end the cycle of poverty for the members and their families. Health care, paid maternity leave, retirement pensions, and daycare: all part of the membership package. Social workers on staff assist the artisans in addressing their personal needs, from opening a bank account to situations of domestic violence and dealing with HIV/AIDS. There are literacy classes, computer training, and regular workshops on topics like hygiene, nutrition, and parenting.