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Sasha - India
Sasha is a fair trade, not-for-profit marketing organisation for craftspeople and producers from all over India.
To create prosperity through empowering and providing livelihood opportunities for craft groups and marginalized communities residing in India and promote fair trade as a way of life.
Providing sustainable livelihoods to the marginalized communities by leveraging the fair trade principles and practices.
To empower artisans by building and improving upon their relevant capacities and facilitating their access to services like marketing, finance, insurance, education etc.
Catalyze viability and vibrancy in the craft sector -- economically, socially, environmentally and culturally.
To commit to the Fair Trade principles and practices, uphold its spirit and maintain a leading position in terms of contributing to the fair trade movement in India and the world.
Craftsman uses the simplest of hand tools to make leather boxes and bags which are elaborately embossed and painted.
The craft of leather embossing with hand painting is not native to West Bengal and was first introduced in Sriniketan in the 1940s. Today, this work is done only in West Bengal.
In the 1960s a group of 65 people were trained in this craft by a rural development organization as part of their income generation program. A production unit was set up as a cooperative and the products they made gained popularity. The designs they used for the embossing were paisleys and florals made by art students from the nearby Shantiniketan University. But the unit declined because of a lack of proper marketing effort.
In 1978, Sasha revived this unit with design and development work which soon lead to orders from overseas clients. Sasha concentrated on promoting this craft internationally and soon the unit was thriving again.
The whole process is done completely by hand. Right from the embossing to the construction of boxes and bags, every step uses the simplest hand tools. Painting of the leather is done by women usually. Craftsmen are trained as apprentices from an early age and acquire the skills as they work.
Phulia Scarves and Stoles
Amitava Basak, a young entrepreneur from Phulia, one of Sasha’s major producer groups, has many reasons to be proud of his achievements. His dyeing & weaving units in Phulia provides employment to around fifty families of weavers.
The wide range of crafts and textiles offered by Sasha draws on tradition, retaining cultural context, yet making products contemporary for present-day living. Sasha also hopes to revive a wide variety of dying handicraft traditions. For many artisans, handicraft production is their main source of income.
Anwesha has been associated with Sasha since 1988. In 1980, there were 24 artisans and today there are 1274 artisans. There is substantial promotion of employment opportunities. Most of the artisans who work on tribal Jewellery & Dhokra, are highly skilled. Anwesha has held a number design diversification and product development workshops sponsored by Govt. of India and facilitated by Sasha to keep abreast of the market trends and demand. Sasha has also facilitated inputs on quality enhancement of the products to benefit the artisans and the organisation.
Both men and women work on the products. Raw materials used for dokra are recycled metals (from scraps) but for jewellery raw materials are bought. Apart from providing work and income opportunities. Anwesha is a major Fair Trade organisation in eastern India having aligned themselves with the Fair Trade movement, and is endeavouring to transmit this concept to their producer groups.