Stories and Testimonials

1. Supporting women’s financial autonomy: The Ajam Para Women Team

The Pushpanjali scarf production team is composed of 12 women all living in the same area of Agra, in Ajam Para. They started working with Pushpanjali 3 years back now, and got a chance then to generate an income by themselves, which is extremely rare in that area for women. They are in charge of the scarves quality controls, of cutting the extra threads and knotting the scarves. When orders are there, they work on every week day, between 10am and 5pm, while the children are at school. This represents 6 to 7 months of work around the year for them.

When being asked, what Pushpanjali did for them, the increased financial autonomy comes at first. With the fair wage they receive for they work, the Ajam Para women are able to contribute to their family needs, especially with clothes. Good working conditions are also there, and if they have one request for improvement to Pushpanjali, it is about business growth and orders increase, so they can increase further their contribution to the family livelihoods.

2. “Shifting the power to the field” –

Testimony of producers launching their own business, leveraging the training, scale and capability building they received via the fair trade process

Amit Agarwal:-

Amit Agarwal, 31 years old, is a self entrepreneur, who decided to launch his own iron craft workshop back in 2008, after 2 years working as an iron producer for Pushpanjali. Amit joined the Pushpanjali network as a producer in 2006. During 2 years, he acquired the iron products expertise. And gradually, idea came to his mind that he could launch his own workshop. He received support from Pushpanjali along this project, to understand how to use design sheets for example, and also to get his first orders: Pushpanjali was his first customer.

Today Amit is coordinating a workshop where he has 4 main customers, among which Pushpanjali. He employs 7 producers regularly, of which 3 are women. He is in charge of the quality controls, supplying the raw materials to producers, receiving and distributing customers’ orders. From his work with Pushpanjali, he has retained the Fair Trade principles, and he is today enforcing those practices on a daily basis. Amit’s success story is showing that empowering producers is at the very heart of Pushpanjali’s mission.

Mohd Shakeel:-

Mohd Shakeel started learning the arts and crafts of embroidery at the age of 14, in the area of Lohamandi in Agra. As the time, he joined a training organized in his neighborhood to enroll new people in a workshop. It took him 6 years to learn, and aged 20; he left his first employer to start working for various workshops, among which Pushpanjali.

Few years later, he realized that the only way for him to get a chance to raise his standards of living was to launch his own workshop. It took His another few years to set up a safe place to work, compliant with the fair trade standards, with the support of Pushpanjali. As an entrepreneur, he discovered gradually the number of challenges to be overcome – starring with the working capital needs which he did not have, the infrastructure to have a safe working place to offer to his employees, the sourcing of the raw materials and of course, the market access. From advanced payments to placing of first orders, Pushpanjali supported Mohd Shakeel in his project, with the strong belief that encouraging the local entrepreneurship in the heart of the neighborhoods is a sustainable way to develop the city economy and create employment.

Enforcing the Fair Trade standards have remained at the heart of Pushpanjali’s concern along this project with Mohd Shakeel. In the beginnings, safety standards were not there in Mohd Shakeel’s workshop. Gradually and with the support of Pushpanjali, electric wiring has been revised. Security measures against fire have ben enforced. Today Mohd Shakeel’s workshop is fully compliant with the required standards. It offers work to up to 12 producers in Lohamandi, and has diversified its portfolio of customers on top of Pushpanjali.

3. Supporting the education of producers’s children: Devendra Upraity and his son

Pushpanjali has been involved with no less than 3 generations in the Devendra Upraity’s family. It all started 30 years ago, with Hari Prasad, Devendra father, who became a soapstone craft producer for Pushpanjali. At an early age, Devendra learnt the arts and crafts with his father, and when he turned 20, he started working with Pushpanjali as well, to finally replace his father as retirement time came.

Devendra’s three children, Rahul is the eldest son. After graduation, he joined Pushpanjali main office, to do office work in different sections. During that time, an opportunity came up through the Indian network of Fair Trade (FTF-I), for an exchange program in Katmandu, in collaboration with a Norwegian NGO, FK. Pushpanjali immediately thought of Rahul. After a month training in Bangkok, Rahul went to Katmandu, where he learnt about Retail management during one year with a Nepalese local Fair Trade Organization (FTG Nepal).

Now Rahul is back from Katmandu and ready to start working. Pushpanjali is confident that the opening of new Fair Trade shops across India (targeting about 30 shops by 2013), will offer him as many opportunities to leverage his exchange program, maybe by selling his father’s craft products.

For Pushpanjali, Fair Trade is a matter of offering opportunities to disadvantaged people to sustainably improve their lives. This can be done in many ways – but supporting education will always remain a priority for Pushpanjali.