Every piece is made by artisans preserving traditional techniques.
technique: Hand-carved with ethically sourced materials.
partners: since 2022
Based in India, Noah’s Ark is a fair trade organization empowering artisans through traditional techniques. Artisans include women, minorities, and displaced people who have resettled in Delhi due to damages or economic conditions within their home villages.
Noah’s Artisan & Welfare Society is the nonprofit arm of Noah’s Ark. The organization supports social programs including education and literacy programs, clean drinking water, medical and health benefits, sanitation services, profit sharing, and community development workshops. The group works to provide a shelter to India’s craftwork and invest in the welfare of artisans. Noah’s Ark works with more than 25 artisan groups with a total of 250 to 300 artisans. They range in age from 22 to 50 years old. With a further commitment to the community, Noah’s Ark organizes health, eye, and dental camps and supports education for nearly 300 children.
Most of the artisans work from their homes. Noah’s Ark ensures they are provided with the necessary equipment, such as safety gear and dust extractors, and support to work in a safe, empowering space. In the past 30 years, Noah’s Ark has created approximately 23 workshops.
To create these picture frames, artisans follow a technique that involves recycling discarded bones of buffalo, which have passed away from other causes, and transforming them into timeless products. Artisans wash and boil the material, and then they set it to dry in the natural sunlight. They cut the pieces by hand and assemble the medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and pieces of bone. Each piece is cut and polished and can vary in shade and color. On average, it can take nearly two weeks to create 100 products. The workshop is led by Mod. Naseem, with whom Noah’s Ark established a workshop about a decade ago. Artisans typically learn these skills at a young age and preserve the local art that is unique to the community.
Each purchase empowers underserved women in rural communities.
LOCATED IN: Bangladesh
Technique: Handwoven with locally sourced recycled iron + sustainable holga leaves
partners: since 2021
Based in Bangladesh, Prokritee (“nature” in Bengali) supports more than 2,000 women in rural communities who are rising above poverty. A community-based nonprofit organization, Prokritee is committed to developing the social and economic capacity of underserved women by creating sustainable employment opportunities and increasing their market reach. Generally between the ages of 18 and 55 years old, many of these women are single mothers, refugees, survivors of domestic violence, indigenous peoples, people who are living with disabilities, and often the sole breadwinners of their families. While working with Prokritee, they earn fair, dignified wages in a supportive environment, can support their families, and are able to send their children to school to further their education. Prokritee believes in the dignity of each person, advocates for social change, collaboration, and integrity, and strives to reduce unfairness in society. Prokritee was created by the Mennoite Central Committee to independently manage and support job creation projects. Prokritee has 10 different production units, and the artisans who create these baskets are part of the Biborton Handmade Paper Project in the Barisal district of southern Bangladesh. They are skilled in creating handmade paper, but with a recent decrease in demand, they are learning new techniques including basket weaving. A unit manager oversees each unit with additional support by the producer management committee. In the Barisal District, people have faced floods, droughts, and high unemployment over years; it is a particularly vulnerable area of Bangladesh.
Prokritee prioritizes fair trade practices and is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization and Asia’s World Fair Trade Organization. It offers essential services including skill development training, healthcare, emergency financial support, school kits for children, frequent, collaborative meetings to raise awareness on social issues, educational programs, and personal development programs.
Women are empowered to participate in essential decision-making processes throughout the production cycle. To create these baskets, artisans practice an intricate basket weaving technique local to the area and locally source raw materials needed for production. Prokritee purchases the frame, made from recycled iron, and holga leaves from local marketplaces — supporting the community at-large. Environmentally sustainable, holga leaves are found in the area throughout the year. Artisans clean the natural leaves and set them to dry, spray the leaves with water to loosen up the fiber for ease of braiding, and weave the leaves around the frame to develop the basket. Each piece takes an average of 15 to 17 hours to create from start to finish, with two artisans working together and following design directions from the head office. They recycle materials and implement eco-conscious practices, including the use of AZO-free dyes, with the well-being of people and the planet in mind.
artisan at Noah's Ark