Surjomukhi , a fair trade organisation was founded in Bangladesh in 1994 by Ms. Stans Stolte . Stans saw the need to improve the working and living standards of the producers.
The organisation started with two dynamic young ladies. One of these ladies, Ms. Naznin Ansari is now running the organisation.
Surjomukhi presently has 25 artisans, the majority being women.
Surjomukhi has identified three difficulties for gainful employment of the low income and marginalised people in the rural areas.
- Working capital
- Marketing support
- Opportunity for skills development.
At Surjomukhi, the artisans have ongoing training to improve their skills and meet the challenges of innovation, design, efficiency, and aesthetic taste.
In the formative years of Surjomukhi, the organization worked with an ethnic group named Garo, from the Mymonsingh district, about 120 kms north of Dhaka.
Some of these ladies still work at Surjomukhi , as well as artisans from Dhaka.
All the artisans now live around Dhaka.
Some of the artisans work from home and bring their finished products to the organisation regularly. There is also a small production unit in Dhaka.
Benefits provided by Surjomukhi to the producers are:
- Allowance for medical treatment
- Advance payment access for the producers
- Interest free loan access
- 100% bonus wages for artisans ( total wages for year divided by 12 months) .
- Extra motivational prize for the best performer of every month.
- Wages are paid the last working day of each month.
- Maternity allowances for artisans who have worked at Surjomukhi for at least two years.
- Safe working environment with sufficient lighting, ventilation, sanitation and drinking water.
- Celebration annual cultural party for staff, artisans and their families on the occasion of Surjomukhi’s Birthday (18th June )
Production is hampered during the monsoon season as many roads become flooded and access to the production unit by the artisans is sometimes impossible. At this time some of the artisans are also affected by the floods.
Surjomukhi hopes that with increased international market access, they will be able to set up a new production unit and be able to employ and empower more artisans . Surjomukhi is a member of the Fair Trade Federation.
Text courtesy of Siham Craftlink Pty Ltd.