Paper High, UK / India / Nepal / Sri Lanka
Paper High is a small company that designs and imports handmade paper products. We buy directly from the buyer; and pay reasonable prices for our goods that leave both our suppliers and ourselves happy. It would be possible to buy our stock from mass producers but we feel that buying from small independents gives them a chance to survive, creates jobs, feeds more people and puts roofs over heads, it is also a lot more fun and personal. We could force prices down to make us more profit but because we have travelled in these countries for a long time, we have more awareness of the value of money, thus by us saving 5p on each item we save a little while they lose a lot. We deal with three individual private companies in three different countries.
India, We buy from a small-scale family business that makes the products themselves. In 3 years we have seen the company grow from about 5 staff to approx. 50 These are predominately in villages dotted around the Rajasthani countryside near Udaipur. Their quality of work has vastly improved due to us visiting them, and the dedication of the owner who cares for his staff and provides good working conditions and above average wages for them.
Nepal, The Lokta shrub grows in the Himalayas and is harvested by the mountain villagers, this in itself brings much needed work to the villages. The finished product is made in a workshop just outside Kathmandu, run by a family business that employs the village women, provides clothing and food for them as well as a cr?¿che for the children.
Sri Lanka, The raw elephant dung paper is made on-site at the charity in a small workshop. This is then bought by another company who employs staff to make the finished product. The small workshop is at the back of their house.
All our suppliers have been chosen because of their ethics. They work closely with their staff and have a vested interest in them, their families and their futures. We have visited all work places and have found them warm, comfortable, healthy and safe. Everyone is put through training programs where they are taught skills such as leather tanning, bookbinding and papermaking. This enables them to learn a genuine skill.
The future is good, fair trade is enjoying a period of
time where consumers are more aware of world issues and have proved that they
care what happens in developing countries. Yes, fair trade goods might be a little
more expensive but you can be sure that you are putting money directly back to
the artists that make the goods, therefore increasing their standard of living
and giving many families a good start for the future.