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Teddy Exports, India

Based in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Teddy Exports was established in 1990 (with a small hut and 5 employees) by Amanda Murphy, from Northern Ireland, under The Body Shop's Community Trade initiative. Founded on the principle of 'trade not aid' to develop local skills and resources, it now provides work for over 300 people. Teddy is certified ISO 9001:2000, is a member of WFTO and was awarded the Worldaware Award Crown Agents' Foundation Award for Small Business in 1999. Amanda was awarded the M.B.E. by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of Teddy Exports' services to the community.

Teddy aims to be a model employer and has excellent working conditions, with environment, training, health and safety and catering facilities all given high priority. The 300+ employees (60% women, 40% men) all receive equal pay. Other facilities include free medical care, free primary education for their children, a free cr?┬┐che, heavily subsidised meals, access to pension, housing loans, etc.

The Company also uses its profits to fund the Teddy Trust, which has major education, health and veterinary projects:-

The Teddy School has 450 children from Kindergarten to 9th Standard (and growing). Its Special Needs unit is now largely integrated into the normal curriculum. Free non-formal evening classes

winners proudly showing off the Special Needs Cup, south India
winners proudly showing off the Special Needs Cup, south India

printing at Teddy Exports, south India printing at Teddy, south India

are run for children who work (elsewhere!) in the wider community to attract them and their parents to the principles of self-improvement through education.

Teddy Community Health Centre provides primary health care free for employees and families, and at nominal cost for the local community. It provides Specialist Outreach clinics and an Accident Relief Centre and provides 24-hour emergency ambulance cover.

HIV/AIDS awareness work began in 1992. Truckers' booths on the major highways now provide free condoms, information and counselling. Another project focuses on commercial sex workers in nearby Madurai. In both cases, Teddy's projects attracted support from National initiatives which has strengthened their reach and range.

With a mix of British and Indian staff, Teddy designs and manufactures a wide range of wooden and textile products, from cosmetic and shopping bags to sarongs and cushions, and massagers to lifestyle products. Teddy plays a leadership role in applying good practice to silviculture and has established a model plantation, a sawmill and a co-operative project with local communities.

In summary, Teddy Exports is an excellent example of local development through partnership, good business practice, and empowerment of a local community.

Amanda Murphy, Teddy Exports
teddy@md2.vsnl.net.in