Asha Handicrafts, a Fair Trade Organization, are helping to spread the concepts and benefits of Fair Trading in India and abroad. Asha means "HOPE" in Sanskrit. Thousands of artisans and producer groups depend on Asha Handicrafts for assistance throughout India. Asha Handicrafts Association is a society formed with the objective of preserving crafts of India through marketing them abroad and providing training in craft development. To apply the surplus generated from the business to fulfill the objective of the association and engage in acts of charitable nature.Read More
AMAR BAGH He is 30 years old and enjoys his work with one of our producer groups. Amar was originally from a small village called Balai Nager in the Nodiya district of West Bengal where he was born & brought up along with his 4 sisters and 7 brothers. He initially had the opportunity to study and has studied till the 7th standard. He belonged to a poor family where his eldest brother was the one who earned & provided for the family. When his brother fell sick & wasn’t able to work anymore, Amar was forced to leave school and not study any further.
Things got more difficult as he & his siblings grew older. One of his brothers ran away from home & fled to Jaipur never to be heard of again. His eldest brother fell sick again and this time, sadly, he did not recover. Amar still misses him, even today. As with all things, Amar’s dark days came to an end. Today, all of his siblings are happily married and have different jobs. Amar has been living in Jaipur for the last 6 years since he found work with Asha Handicrafts. His employment with us has literally changed his life. At the producer group, he learnt the craft of making beautiful silver handicrafts and he did it in 6 months. So impressive are his skills that he has started his own production unit, where he teaches artisans to make different jewelry. He hopes his unit continues to flourish and that more artisans come to work with him.
MUNNI Works with a producer group at Saharanpur. Munni was born in to a poor family in Roorkee, a city in the Haridwar district of Uttarakhand. Needless to say, her childhood was not easy. Her father was a daily wage worker and couldn’t afford sufficient food for his family, let alone afford to send Munni to school.
She finally got married, moved to her husband’s home at Saharanpur and had 4 children. She thought that the difficult days were behind her, but sadly, in a span of a few years, the poverty & hardship she left behind, had once again found her & her family. Her husband also made a living as a daily wage worker & couldn’t find work like before. Their future looked dire, but Munni decided not to give up & do her best to support her family.
She was fortunate to get a job with one of the local handicraft manufacturers & learnt how to polish wood. She was thankful for the new income, but still couldn’t support her family. When she heard of Asha Handicrafts & the benefits we offered our artisans, Munni knew she had to at least try to get a job with us. Recognising the quality of her work, our producer group, immediately offered Munni a job, which she graciously accepted.
She has been working with our producer group for the last 10 years as a wood polisher, specialising in antique / vintage finishing. Munni couldn’t be happier now that she can easily take care of her family’s needs!
CHOTELAL SHARMA A Father, a Friend, a Master Craftsman,an Artist.
Your delicate & beautiful stone work, your legacy in the city of Agra will carry on through your son.
The world will surely miss your presence.
We at Asha Handicrafts will mourn your loss, but will never forget you.
Our thoughts& prayers go out to the Sharma family.
On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfil the promise of our friend's life also, in our own, to the world.
RITA MAOURYA Works at one of Asha Handicrafts’ producer groups at Mumbai. She has been working with this group for a long time. In fact, neither she nor the group owner can remember exactly when the Rita became a part of their“family”, but pegs it at a minimum of 6 years. She has always just been there and will continue to be there.
Rita was born & bought up in Mumbai, which when compared to other cities in India, is one of the more expensive cities to live in. Things being as they were, her father ensured that she could study at least up to junior college. By this time it was getting difficult to manage their household and her parents began looking for a suitable match for Rita. Soon Rita was married to her husband Pradeep, who was a Tailor Cutting Master working with this producer group. During the span of a few years, they had a daughter and a son and were as happy as could be. When their daughter began school it became difficult to make ends meet with only her husband’s salary. Fortunately for them Rita was excellent with a sewing machine &our producer group was hiring.
Rita now does various types of stitching for the various garments, scarfs, etc. with the precision & accuracy of a seasoned professional tailor. She is proud that she can contribute to her family’s income and send her children to school. Her children are now studying in the 5th and the 1st standard. She is a proud mother & is grateful to Asha Handicrafts for her job, her children’s education and hopes to get good orders in the future.
SUSHILA YADAV Was born and brought up in Mumbai. She used to be a sweet homemaker, taking care of her small family. This all changed when her husband, one day, just packed up and left her & their children. After her husband deserted her, she took up odd jobs, which she could do herself, to feed her children.
In 2007, Sushila was at her wits end trying to keep her family & home afloat. She was ready to give up when she heard of a job at one of Asha Handicrafts’ producer groups at Mumbai. When she met the group in-charge, she knew that finally her troubles were over and immediately started working with him. Since Sushila had completed her high school and was quite knowledgeable, she was given the additional responsibility of maintaining records of production and raw material along with her regular crafting work.
Sushila is employed as a full time employee and is paid a salary which enables her to take care of her dependent parents as well as her children. Sushila was also fortunate to be included in a government scheme for subsidized housing, which made her eligible for a housing loan. She also didn’t have to worry anymore about her children’s education. Her older daughters are studying in municipal schools and with support from Asha Handicrafts. Sushila has now enrolled her youngest daughter in an English medium school which has made her very happy.
In her own heartfelt words, Sushila expressed how thankful she was for the support she received. “Only with the support and encouragement I received from Mr. Ram Prasad & the good orders we receive from Asha, I was able to pay for my house which is otherwise nearly impossible for women like me, who are living without a husband. I am thankful that good people still exist in the world
LALJI JANGID Rajasthan, in India, is famous for its distinct culture, art forms, and handicrafts. It is here, in Jodhpur city, that Lalji Jangid’s Jangid Handicrafts is based. Lalji Jangid has been a part of this trade for over twenty five years now.
Lalji’s father migrated to India from Pakisthan in search of livelihood Lalji was born in India. He had to struggle in the initial days and could not pursue his schooling since his father had to move from place to place where the work was found.
He specializes in the making of handicrafts that are generally bought for home décor such as mango wood cabinets with different finished and ornamented with brass, iron, and aluminum. Lalji learnt his craft from his father; however, as his father’s work was mostly traditional, Lalji had to improvise. Although the items he makes are decorative, Lalji explains that many of them are also utilitarian; he makes candle stands, photo frames, and boxes. His workshop employs just three artisans and he hires more based on orders.
When Lalji had started off he faced a number of problems. He got very few orders and struggled to find new markets. He used to supply to film studios of in Mumbai small furnitures used for film sets. On one such trip stumbled across a sign board that read Asha Handicrafts. He spoke to the security staff and only came back the next day after he was sufficiently prepared.
He found working with Asha very different: “We (the suppliers) are patients and Asha is our doctor.” He feels he is treated very differently; other buyers simply ignore the difficulties faced by artisans. As an artisan, he feels that it was hard for him to negotiate with such buyers.
Lalji has started to implement Fair Trade practices and feels that with increased capacity he will be able to pass on benefits to his artisans. In the last two years, Lalji has seen his business volume with Asha increase. Now, he can concentrate on settling down and starting a family. With a market assured, he can focus on the quality of his wares.
Lalji has benefitted from capacity building programs conducted by Asha Handicrafts where he learned about quality control and product development.
SUMAN Warli are an aboriginal people residing mainly in the western part of India; Warlis decorate their dwellings and surroundings with their distinctive style of paintings.
Suman Sonthalia of Akruti Arts Creations is a designer who has combined various folk art forms, such as, Warli and Dokra, with wood and pottery to create popular products. Suman started with just two artisans and a dream. In 2006 she began to work with Asha Handicrafts and her turn over reached USD 10,000.
Today , Suman supports 30 artisans of whom 4 are on salary while the others work on piece rates. She also employs 15 girls of whom 5 work from their home. As the work continued Suman adopted other styles and crafts such as Madhubhani paintings and Kalamkari in addition to her trademark Warli style. This has lead to a seven fold increase of Suman’s business with Asha Handicrafts in just a span of four years.
Besides getting regular work she is also happy with Asha Handicrafts for other benefits which she received through Fair trade such as training through workshops, product development, business counseling and advance payment against all the orders.
Suman has good entrepreneur skills which have helped her to not only develop products that are decorative but also utilitarian and serving the needs of the consumers. Her goal is to keep these crafts alive through constant innovation and employing crafts in creating utility items.
Through Asha handicrafts, Suman has not only been empowered for fair trade and business entrepreneurship but also seeks to follow example of Asha Handicrafts in supporting socially and economically underprivileged women, by giving them work, advance payments and educational assistance for her artisan’s children.
FARZANA KHATTON Has been working with Asha Handicrafts’ producer group at Delhi since 2006. In 1999, when Farzana came to Delhi to visit a relative, from her home town Safipur in Uttar Pradesh, little did she know that she would meet her future husband whom she promptly married & with whom she has 2 daughters. Farzana was as happy as could be. But dark times were lurking just around the corner for her. A few years after the birth of her second daughter, Farzana lost her husband & was all alone with her 2 daughters. It was difficult for Farzana to take care of her family’s needs. She soon began searching for work. In her search, someone asked her to seek our Asha Handicrafts’ producer group. Seeing her desperation, she was offered a job at the group. Because her daughters were too young to be left alone at home, she was given the opportunity to make jewellery at home.
As her daughters grew up, she was able to take on more responsibility & soon was made a supervisor of the women artisans. Things were better for Farzana, but it was still difficult to provide a good education to her daughters.
In 2011-12 Farzana met our welfare worker, on one of his regular visits to the producer group’s workshop. Our welfare worker soon heard about Farzana’s plight & how she recognized the importance of a good education for her daughters. This led to education assistance from Asha Handicrafts, for her daughters. She is now happy knowing that her family’s future is secure and is extremely grateful for all the help she has received.