fair trade policy

environmental policy

Product Profiles

Producer Profiles


Nepal Leprosy Trust
UK /Nepal

Nepal Leprosy Trust, a registered charity, was founded in 1972 with the purpose of improving the lifestyle of people affected by leprosy and other marginalised people. It aims to provide medical, social and economic benefits by providing employment and support.

Its early work consisted of establishing a range of rehabilitation, income generation and financial assistance projects for people affected by leprosy, disadvantaged women and children, and other disadvantaged people. Then, after 20 years of experience, the Trust established Nepal's third leprosy referral hospital at Lalgadh, in the southeast of the country. It was officially opened in 1996 and is now a major centre, offering much more than just medical diagnosis and treatment with 125 staff and receiving 30,000 out-patient visits per year.

NLT works with other disabled and marginalised people as well as those affected by leprosy. It supports them without discrimination to empower, rehabilitate and restore dignity, and thus demonstrates their potential to be active members in their community. To achieve this goal, NLT runs Income Generation, Social Support and Capacity Building programmes through a participatory approach.

The income generation programme trains and provides employment to those who have the ability to work. By providing sheltered workshops, NLT works towards their economic integration, through a fair wage policy, as well as social integration, as work brings together a team on a project. They have been formulated to answer the needs of people affected by leprosy, disabled and marginalised persons, according to their degree of autonomy.

The products generated in the programmes are marketed by Khola, the trading arm of NLT. Khola is a BAFTS accredited supplier, while NLT is a member of WFTO (International Federation for Alternative Trade). Several projects run under the income generation programme, including batik and garment production, but the following describe the projects that supply Ganesha with products.

craftsman at work in the leather handicrafts workshop, Nepal
at work in the leather handicrafts workshop

Himalayan Leather Handicrafts workshop and shop

For the economic rehabilitation and employment of people affected by leprosy, a leather crafts industry was established and has been running successfully for many years. It produces a range of high-quality leather bags, wallets, purses, photo frames, file cases, etc. for local and export markets.

women making felt; one of the Nepal Leprosy Trust's  income generating programmes
at work at the felt making unit

NLT exports continue to feature prominently in overall sales, with products being exported to the UK, Ireland, USA, Sweden, Switzerland, etc. HLH provides employment for 20 producers/staff. During 2003-2004, an ex-leprosy patient who needed work, Ms. Rinku Basnet, joined HLH. Two bag designers, Tina Giuntini and Helen LeVoi from England, came to design some new bags in leather and fabric in November 2003. These new designs are becoming very popular for export orders.

Felt Industry
NLT started its Felt Industry in 2002 to provide employment for poor and disadvantaged women. It has quickly become the best way for them to earn money. There are now five regular workers, able to make felt bags, shoes, balls and mats, etc. FI is receiving a good number of orders from Sweden and the UK. Sales in July 2003-04 were nearly 15 times more than in the initial year. There is very good potential for NLT to help more marginalised people. The working space has been expanded (on to the roof of NLT's building), but we need to create a proper workshop, so that the workers can work more comfortably.

The Income Generation Programme produces high-quality handicrafts for sale in local and export markets to make a profit. However, NLT is not a profit-oriented organisation, but rather aims to uplift the lives of marginalised and leprosy-affected people, economically and socially, by providing them with a fair wage, new skills and sheltered workshops. That is how we judge our success. We accept that our products are higher priced than those available in the local market. However, we are confident that for a higher price we can guarantee that the product has been made in a fair trade environment with high quality materials.

By buying a bag or any other product from us you are not only providing a producer with a fair wage but you are also contributing to the running of a leprosy hospital which will eventually be a part of the eradication of leprosy in Nepal. We think that if consumers read up more on how most products are produced in south-east Asia they would not mind paying slightly more for a fair alternative.

We are constantly updating our designs and hope to attract more export orders for all our departments this year.

Ruth Hunter, Nepal Leprosy Trust