And we help lay the very foundations that the artisans dreams can be built on. By providing them with training, introducing them to new design ideas, putting in place the infrastructure that would help them excel at what they do. All within the framework of their lives, their environment, their cultural traditions and their strongly held beliefs.
CRC is at times the product developer, at other times, the developer of enterpreneurship, organising production, managing the supply chain and developing human resources. CRC is also the market developer that manages logistics, the financial consultant, packaging consultant, the friend, philosopher and guide!
CRC believes that all human beings have three basic needs to survive - income, health and education. Once a secure income is assured, can a person be motivated to take care of his/her health and education. Additionally, for any social change to be successful, it has to come from the bottom, and only then can it be termed sustainable development.
CRC believes in practicing what it preaches. While CRC assisted its producer partners to be self sufficient, as a body it also worked towards self sufficiency. Today after 24 years of existence and having started with zero resources, CRC is completely self reliant with its own corpus fund for sustainability. Above all, CRC believes in maintaining complete transparency and accountable business relations with suppliers and customers. Producers and workers are given a chance to participate in the decision-making processes and have a voice within their organization.
World War II (1939-45) and its ravaging effects, formed deep scars in the economies of Eastern European nations. The need of the hour was to reverse this trend in the most effective way possible. This led to the birth of ‘Fair Trade’ - trade between companies in developed countries and producers in developing countries in which fair prices are paid to the producers.
One of the measures adopted was the sourcing of handicrafts from Eastern Europe to be sold in Western European nations. The Mennonite Central Committee also began its humanitarian business around this time. It sourced embroidered products from Puerto Rico and sold these through the Self Help Crafts World Organisation (now known as Ten Thousand Villages). A Founder Member of World Fair Trade Organization, today Ten Thousand Villages is a network of more than 390 retail outlets throughout the United States.
Gepa in Germany and Traidcraft in Great Britain soon followed suit. Gepa has been practising Fair Trade for over 35 years. It is one of the pioneers and serves the interests of “Southern partners”. Traidcraft is credited with selling the UK's widest range of fair trade products! While some organisations rolled out religious mindsets, others pledged to address border-blurring humanitarian crises - largely economic - that were an aftermath of a devastating war. Elimination of the middlemen culture, direct links with producers from different countries and stories behind each product, reasonable rates and the durability of products worked well for the Fair Trade fray. A buzz around Alternative Trade vis a vis sympathetic retail businesses ushered in the Fair Trade Movement.
The concept of cooperative businesses evolved through Wild Oats Markets in the US and the Co-operative Group in Great Britain. Fair Trade certification further uplifted the cause. Concurrently, traditional and well known brands were encouraged to follow Fair Trade principles. Sainsbury’s and Starbucks are the best examples. However, till date they remain only partially Fair Trade.
Fair Trade sales are growing fast. On an average, Fair Trade products fly off the shelves at 20% increased rates every year. The world over, more and more Fair Trade shops are emerging. Fair Trade practises are a means to ethical Foreign Direct Investment. Presently, over two million marginalised producers and workers across 70 countries are part of this global movement.
The apex institution WFTO operates in as many as 75 countries through regional networks in Africa: Cooperation for Fair Trade in Africa (COFTA) represents 70 member organisations across 20 African countries Asia: WFTO-Asia represents over 90 member organisations across 15 countries Europe: WFTO-Europe represents 90 members across 17 European countries Latin America: WFTO-Latin America represents 61 members who are united in 50 organisations, 8 support organisations and 3 networks North America and the Pacific Rim: WFTO Pacific represents 25 member organisations across 7 countries on 3 continents.
As we celebrate our Silver Jubilee, we have another reason to raise a toast.
This year, we were conferred the title “Fair Trade Guaranteed” by the World Fair Trade Organization. However, the ‘Guarantee’ was not earned in a day. It was the result of steady alignment to the cause of Fair Trade and perseverance to the end. However, we still believe we have miles to go before we can rest on our laurels.
Evolution of the Guarantee System (GS) Back in the 1960s, the Fair Trade movement gained popularity through a coffee planters movement. As Fair Trade started gaining momentum, many questions emerged, about the definition and purview of Fair Trade. Eventually, certain standards were put in place and FLI or Fair Trade International was formed in 1997.
At this stage, labelling or certification was limited to edible and nonedible items. However, handicrafts were a different ball game altogether. Countries in the Southern Hemisphere are rich in handicrafts, and these products were much in demand. The markets for handicrafts were different from others and so were the products - the art of one country differed greatly from that of another. To exacerbate the problem, sensing an ocean of opportunity, many mainstream producers tried to jump onto the Fair Trade bandwagon.
There was a pressing need to define the term ‘Fair Trade’ as there were no strict benchmarks, and the market had become a free-for-all melee. The World Fair Trade Organization was formed, committed to set standards and a system called SFTMS (Sustainable Fair Trade Management Systems) was born.
The SFTMS proved to be cumbersome...paper-work intensive and user-unfriendly. Eventually, it was scrapped and the WFTOGS (World Fair Trade Organization Guarantee System) was formulated under the aegis of Rudi Dalvai, President of WFTO and his colleagues.
The concept was presented at the Rio conference in 2013. Debates, discourses, agreements and disagreements later, the WFTOGS was formulated. In the initial phase,10 FT organisations were selected to undergo the Guarantee System as part of a maiden venture.
Craft Resource Center was conferred with the Guarantee System soon after the pilot initiative received positive feedback. Now Fair Trade Guaranteed, CRC is grappling with unanswered questions like marketing the FTGS.
A four-step approach that won CRC the GS title.
Completion of Self Assessment Report - A detailed SAR report marks the beginning of the WFTOGS trail. Peer visit - Applicant suggests names of peers. WFTO chooses. Visitor visits - Applicant to assess the organization. Peer report submitted to WFTO. Audit - WFTO office appoints auditor. Auditor submits report within a stipulated time to the WFTO Board. WFTO Board makes final decision on conferring the GS.
Fair Trade Principles & CRC
Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
• CRC supports 36 marginalized small & medium producers - independent family businesses or grouped in associations or co-operatives
• CRC strives to alleviate income insecurity and poverty and pave the pathway to economic self-sufficiency and ownership
• CRC formulates plans of action for novice producers and provides mentorship.
• CRC always encourages producers to supply to domestic markets alongside exporting to markets abroad.
Transparency and Accountability
• Transparent in its management and commercial relations while respecting sensitivity and confidentiality of commercial information supplied
• Accountable to all its stakeholders. It finds appropriate, participatory ways to involve all stakeholders (employees, members and producers). CRC holds Annual Producers’ Meetings and uses them as a platform to engage, hear and involve its multi stakeholders. Relevant information is provided to all its trading partners during such events.
• Communication channels are good and open at all levels
• CRC has a very aesthetically designed website and is a social media buff.
Fair Trading Practices
• Trades with concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of marginalized small producers
• Does not maximize profit at the expense of marginalised producers
• Is responsible and professional in meeting commitments - respects contracts
• Maintains long term relationships
When it comes to buyers, CRC
• Ensures orders are paid on receipt of documents - For products, an interest free pre-payment of at least 50 % is made. Even if there is an unavoidable delay in payment on the part of buyers, CRC spends money out of its pockets to producers as advance, while encouraging producers to build a corpus.
• CRC is proud to announce that thus far there have been no instances of order cancellations.
Payment of a Fair Price
• Costing of products at CRC is done after all stakeholders have converged in.
• CRC supports capacity building to producers, to enable them to set a fair price that can be sustained at markets.
Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor
Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment and Freedom of Association
• There is no discrimination at the workplace.
• Women’s economic empowerment is encouraged at all levels.
Ensuring Good Working Conditions
• Health and safety of employees is given top priority.
• Working hours are conducive to overall happiness - not more than 8 hours.
• Mandatory weekly holidays are observed.
• CRC ensures similar value systems percolate down to its producers and orients producer leaders accordingly.
Providing Capacity Building
• Upgrades available skill-sets. Sends employees for training workshops.
• Helps producers improve skills
• Empowers producers from time to time with financial assistance
Promoting Fair Trade
• CRC advocates for the objectives and activities of Fair Trade
Respect for the Environment
• Makes eco-friendly, biodegradable products
• Uses eco-friendly materials for packing
• Campaigns minor lifestyle changes to promote energy saving.