Saturday, May 9th is World Fair Trade Day, which celebrates Fair Trade as a trade based movement that fights against poverty, exploitation of workers, and climate change.
When running a social enterprise it is easy to be consumed by the day-to-day affairs and general sustainability of the business. I try to make it a priority to occasionally ask myself, “What is the real reason that I am doing this [running a fair trade business].” My goal has and will always be to provide as many fair trade jobs for those who are most in need.
So it with great pride that I announce that our artisan group in Bangalore has acquired an additional work room- doubling their workspace. This new room will be used for cutting, and storing materials. Taking those parts of the production process out of their main room frees up a lot of space for eventually installing new sewing machines and employing more tailors.
Once the workshop in Bangalore has raised enough money (hopefully this year), they will also start running a training program in the new room for five women from the local community who are in desperate need of a job but don't yet have the skills to be employed as a member of the production team (or work in any other unit). This will cover fashion design, pattern cutting, tailoring and finishing.
When the local women have completed the training program they will be offered employment. Two of the trainees will be from a village several hours away who will then in turn help to teach these skills to a larger group of women there, as part of a project they are partnering on with community leaders and other entrepreneurs. After the first batch of five ladies 'graduate' they hope to be able to start the cycle again and offer more people the chance to learn these skills and become employable and independent.
Thanks to our faithful customers, Passion Lilie has been able to guarantee regular repeat orders for our artisan group in Bangalore that has given them the financial security to invest in the new workroom and to slowly expand their unit and team.
This is what puts a smile on my face. Talk about job satisfaction for all parties!