fair trade policy

environmental policy

Product Profiles

Producer Profiles


Aranya, Bangladesh

Aranya is a fair trade micro-enterprise working in the private sector from 1990 to develop and promote the fine craft traditions of Bangladesh. As a fair trade organisation Aranya is committed to a shared partnership with craftspeople guaranteeing fair wages and inculcating a sense of pride and confidence in our joint efforts.

Aranya is a member of WFTO as well as other international and national craft development organisations like the World Crafts Council and its national chapter National Crafts Council of Bangladesh, Ecota Fairtrade Forum, Banglacraft, Bangladesh Women's Chamber of Commerce and Karika Bangladesh Handicraft Cooperative Federation Ltd.

Ruby Ghuznavi and her colleagues have revived natural dyes in Bangladesh since 1982; going into marketing only from 1990 as there was, and is, a worldwide debate about the cost-effectiveness of natural dyes. Aranya was set up in 1990 to establish their commercial viability and we believe we have done so successfully. Aranya's objectives have therefore been to work directly with craftspeople on principles of fair trade and promote the ecological and commercial benefits of natural dyes.

blockprinting at Aranya, Dhaka, Bangladesh
blockprinting at Aranya

The producers/suppliers are traditional craftspeople across Bangladesh - weavers, embroiderers and printers, men and women
- who either work out of their homes or in
small karkhanas (factories) with 6-8 looms.
Aranya ensures fair labour charge and wages, which is not only above the minimal

Aranya Shop, Dhaka, Bangladesh

wage of the country but also marginally above the rates followed by the major NGOs (development/charity agencies). Aranya provides design, product development and quality control training, interest free credit and medical care support. It also links producer groups with local NGOs offering healthcare and education programmes when necessary.

The biggest challenge when working with craftspeople are the issues of quality and timely delivery. Most suppliers face problems of raw material shortages which delays production; in the case of Kantha craftswomen the embroidery can only be done in their 'spare time' of which they have very little, working at home from dawn, well into the night. It is, therefore, not surprising that deadlines and quality suffer from time to time.

Involvement with fair trade has crystallised our- us and our producers'- understanding of the relevant issues. However, fair trade will continue to be marginalised until we have made an impact on the mainstream market; consumers in the UK and elsewhere can play a crucial role in ensuring that is so by questioning and caring whether the company follows the norms of social responsibility and we firmly believe trade and not aid is the real way forward.

Ruby Ghuznavi, Aranya.

Latifa Begum, a Kanther stitcher and Aranya producer

words from an Aranya producer

This is Latifa Begum, a widow, who put her three daughters all the way through college on her own. Although she had a modest job as a carer in a children's organisation she believes that without the regular earnings from kantha work she could never have afforded her children's education.

She says, in Bangla: "Shadhin bhabey kanthar kaaj korar shujog na pele, meyeder shikkha hoto na."
Translation: "If I had not been able to do kantha work independently my daughters would not have been educated."