Fair Trade Organisation – Noah’s Ark
Samuel Masih established Noah’s Ark International Exports in 1986 to empower low income artisans to break the cycle of poverty and to preserve the cultural traditions of their crafts. Noah’s Ark is the first and only fair trade organisation who is a certified exporter (member of WFTO and FTF India) in Moradabad, see some of their products here. The company has supported over 500 artisans and their families for over 25 years.
Noah’s Ark is based in Moradabad, a city just outside the Indian capital Delhi. The city has a population of 700,000 in which more than half are involved in the metal handicrafts trade, but the industry has long been plagued with injustice: artisans are paid low wages, forced to pay commissions to exporters, and must self-finance raw materials needed to complete orders. As the cost of metal has become prohibitively high and the international market has evolved, artisans must invest in diversifying beyond Moradabad’s signature brass crafts, though many fall victim to bad debt or shop closure. Trades passed down from one generation to another form an important part of India’s culture. Yet the heritage and tradition of handicrafts is increasingly threatened as insufficient profits force marginalized artisans to seek other professions.
After six years of witnessing the struggles of artisans first hand, Samuel Masih established Noah’s Ark International Exports in 1986 to change the foundation of the exporter-artisan relationship from fear to trust in an effort to raise the artisans out of poverty and preserve their livelihood. Noah’s Ark is the first and only Fair Trade certified exporter (member of WFTO and FTF India) in Moradabad. The company has supported artisans and their families with fair wages 10-15% higher than local wages, long-term business investment and collaboration, and health and education initiatives for over 25 years. An NGO, Noah’s Ark Handicrafts & Artisan Welfare Society, was created in 2000 to advance the charitable activities of the organization, which now include clean water, education, health and capacity building initiatives. Through our work, we give an identity to the artisan’s craft and help them to appreciate the value of their products while ensuring they have the skills and resources to succeed in a changing market. Like the biblical story of Noah’s Ark that symbolizes the concept of saving mankind, we strive to save the art of making handicrafts.
Most of the artisans are women, who benefit from the fact that they can work from home and maintain their responsibilities for children and the home. Noah’s Ark provides benefits such as education and medical treatment for artisans and their families. Below shows an event at a school supported and funded by Noah’s Ark.
An Indian school that Noah’s Ark support, performing on stage
Noah’s Ark was founded before the concept of Fair Trade existed in Moradabad and their objective was to eliminate exporters taking advantage of artisans and their crafts. They provide regular employment to 300 people, run evening schools for children in remote villages and help artisans to build and establish their own workshops.
All information has been supplied by Noah’s Ark and you can read more about them on their own website