ARTISAN WELL- FAIR TRADE WITH INDIAN PRODUCERS
Our organization Artisan Well is based in Kolkata, India.
It is a Non-profit Organization registered under the West Bengal Society Registration Act 1961. The Organization was established in the year 2005. Artisan Well is a Fair Trade Organization, registered with WFTO and also Fair Trade Forum India.
We believe that poor artisans deserve appreciation for their craftsmanship and dignity as human beings. It is imperative that the Artisans are supported in their creativity and have a sustained livelihood, in an environment of transparency between the buyers and the producers.
Artisan Well believes in providing employment opportunities to marginalized artisans to help them market their products and thereby earn a sustained livelihood. The aim of the organization is to capacitate the artisans to improve their skills and production efficiency to develop a range of market-oriented products.
Over and above capacity building, the organization looks at widening the scope of overseas marketing for Indian Handicraft Products. All this is geared to the payment of a fair price to the artisans to ensure their economic betterment and improved quality of life.
Although our core product-area is leather, we also work with producers who supply other hand-crafted products . Our range includes finished leather and shanty-leather bags, and accessories, and also hand-crafted products made of bull-horn, paper-machie etc. Artisan Well looks up to the Western Fair Trade Market for buyer-support and works in a system of partnership with Northern Fair Trade Buyers.
We however, are not always able to guarantee work to the artisans throughout the year. We would therefore welcome the support and market opportunities provided by the fair-trade market to open better employment opportunities and regular work for our marginalized producers. This we feel would not only ensure them of a better price and better wages, but also improve their quality of life in a socio-economically empowered status.
ARTSAN WELL – COLOURS OF INFINITE CAPACITY
India has its own rich heritage of rural artisans with their traditional skills and ethnic creativity. These are unique in style, design and craftsmanship. These handicrafts bear its distinct marks of the history, culture, folklore and lifestyle of their own. The variety of Indian handicrafts is prodigious and bountiful.
Sadly enough that the present picture is not so promising. The artisans are not getting a fair value of their traditional handicrafts for a number of reasons. The situation compelled the poor artisans either, to quit their jobs and look for other forms livelihood or they have to fall in prey to the middlemen. These unscrupulous middlemen supply them raw material and buy the finish products against a very nominal labour charges. The usurped artisans have to live on meager wages as the market grows expensive. On the other hand these middlemen sell these products to corporate houses or to other exporters at hiked prices. At times the corporate houses and exporters buy these goods directly from the individual artisans at a nominal price and in turn sell these products in domestic or international market at an astronomical figure. Thus the middlemen, corporate houses and exporters are benefiting from the hard labour put by the poor artisans. Hence the producers are exploited by the middlemen as well as by the corporate sectors.
Sometimes it happens that an artisan sells his unique products to the middleman/exporter with an expectation of more orders from the market. In case of getting a good response from the customers these middlemen/exporters procure the goods, not from the original artisan, but from the other artists at a negotiated lower price for the plagiarized artwork. In this way the developer of the products is exploited instead of being rewarded.
Often it also happens that an individual artisan may directly contact the corporate sector or exporter for orders of their products. Even if they get orders they can hardly execute the order feasibly. In commercial market no organization pays them in advance for procuring raw materials, but they are paid three months after they supply the finished products. It is very difficult for a poor artisan to procure raw materials due to lack of funds. Banks too are not eager to help them by providing loans at a reasonable interest rate. The banks ask for security against the loan amount, that the artisans cannot comply. In these constraints they are compelled to ask the local moneylenders for the loans who in turn charge an exorbitant interest rate.
Many artisans have switched over to other occupations for such reasons. The outward flow of talent is still going on. And the scenario grows very grim for the Traditional Indian Handicrafts.
For the growth of Indian Handicrafts and to improve the standard of living of subverted artisans, Artisan-Well was created. We are trying to rejuvenate the unique works of the most creative Indian handicraft makers, as well as to save them from exploitation by the unscrupulous middlemen.
ARTISEN-WELL is a non-profit organization, registered under West Bengal Society Registration Act- 1961. It was established in the year 2005. Artisan-Well is a union of groups of artisans and in each group there are on an average 12 members.
We have a general body consisting of 40 members. One person from each group of artisans represents in the General Body. The General Body Meeting takes place once in a year. This general body elects Executive Committee (EC) for one year and there are eight (8) persons in the EC. This committee executes the entire job framed by the General Body. EC meeting takes place every three months. Executive committee selects the office bearers i.e. Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary, Assistant Secretary and Treasurer.
OUR LINE OF PRODUCTS:
1) Leather articles: – wallets, purses, coin-holders, key-holders, ladies bags, satchels, totes, and rucksacks.
2) Decorative, artistic and utility items made of Stone, Bull horn and Wood.
3) Handicrafts articles made by the Tribal Inhabitants of West Bengal: Dokra Art and musical instruments like Saontali Madal etc.
4) Silk, viscos, & chiffon made-ups – scarf, stole, beach ware etc.
5) Ceramic utility items.
6) Miscellaneous handicraft items made of off-beat materials like grass, water-hyacinth, bamboo etc.
7) Fancy Brass puzzles.
We believe that our artisans deserve recognition for their mesmerizing workmanship and they deserve to live with dignity. They are artists and those breed of beings who live for the happiness of others in the most literal sense. They can excel in their creative vitality, in a transparent and free atmosphere of transactions and conversations between the buyers and producers.
We believe that fair trade stands for fair prices and healthy relations between every party who’s part of the deal. The benefits should seep in from the macro-level to nourish the micro-levels and stay there.
Your whole-hearted support will make our mission successful. To promote the cause of fair trade in its truest sense Artisan-Well upholds the philosophy of fair trade and aims towards being a paragon in her field.
We believe the poor artisans of handicraft deserve appreciation for their craftsmanship and dignity as human beings. The artisans can excel in their creativity and have a sustained livelihood in an environment of transparency between the buyers and producers.
OUR MISSION :
- To create economic opportunities for marginalized and socio-economically disadvantaged producers to move from poverty to self reliance.
- To make all transactions within the organization and with the organization and producers transparent and accountability. The relationship should be based on mutual respect.
- All trading practices with the organization and its stake holders should be fair and long lasting in its functioning.
- The organization should pay a fair price to producers and fair wages to staff based on mutual respect and understanding.
- To ensure that there is no child labour is involved within the organization and also at the level of producers. There should also be no forced labour at the level of the organization and the producers.
- There should be no discrimination, Gender and Women’s economic empowerment and freedom of association.
- To ensure good working conditions at the level of the organization and the producers.
- The organization will provide capacity building services to its staff and producers to make them more responsive to the market.
- The organization will ensure promotion of FAIR TRADE at the level of the organization and its producers.
2) To capacitate and help artisans develop new ranges of market oriented and market responsive products
3) To increase productivity and efficiency of artisans by supporting them with need-based skill development training
4) To ensure payment of a fair price to artisans for the products supplied.
5) To inspire the individual artisans to form a co-operative society and to work collectively.
6) To make them self-reliant and empower them with self-confidence.
7) To provide social services like education, medical services, hygienic atmosphere, cultural regeneration to the members of the co-operative society.