Empowering women has been Creative Handicrafts’ mission since its earliest days. However, doing business with a focus on social outcomes invites many challenges. It is often perceived as incompatible with a very competitive, price-conscious market. It's necessary to not only develop world-class products and manufacture them, but also to successfully market them. But, if we can’t turn a profit doing this, we’re out of the game. At the same time, our women members can struggle to understand what “world class” and “international quality” mean. It's a challenge we must face!
We must balance the skills and capacity of our women with the fashion needs of Europeans and Americans. This requires rigorous training and attention to how we engineer our product range. We also need to explore new markets. With strong support from our fair trade partners in Europe and the United States, we have seen much success penetrating these markets.
Looking back, I can see we have exceeded the target we set for ourselves. We didn’t hesitate to enter the demanding world of fashion and producing for the mainstream market. Our women members have repeatedly risen to the challenge. Today we are a Fair Trade Guaranteed organization that commands respect in the fair trade community. Our turnover is more than 30 times what it was 10 years ago. That’s a big achievement for a small organization like ours!
Today we are a certified Fair Trade organization that commands a lot of respect in the Fair Trade community.
Our founder and trustees have always stressed that improving the economic situation of women does not guarantee their holistic development. To that end, our community development team works on social programs to bring about a change in the mindset of women. The goal is to help them take advantage of their economic gains across all aspects of their lives.
It's not uncommon for children from slum and tribal areas to never see the corridors of a formal school. The education sponsorship and preschool programs are a response to this problem. The sponsorship program ensures that the children of our women, especially the girl children, get a decent schooling. The saving and credit program attempts to address the pressing need for loans among the poor while ensuring they do not become crippled by debt.
Looking to the future, I strongly believe that Fair Trade offers an effective response to many poverty-related problems. Fair Trade needs to move beyond the handicrafts and food sectors. Producing anything and everything that is of human utility is a sensible way forward. One way to combat the alarming inequality in society is to ensure everyone is fairly paid for their labors.
One way to combat the alarming inequality in society is to ensure everyone is fairly paid for their labors.
I would like to see Creative Handicrafts reach out to more women. I'd like to see our horizons move beyond the city of Mumbai, to rural women who live in much misery and deprivation. We could provide sponsorship for thousands of children deprived of a decent schooling. This needs to be done without Creative Handicrafts losing sight of its core identity; standing and working for the most deprived.
Finally, it gives me immense joy to see the transformation happening in the lives of these women. It’s worth noting that we need to take the long view. It takes more than a generation to effect a substantial change. I thank all our supporters and partners who have relentlessly supported us through the past 30 years.
Mr. Johny Joseph ( Director )