Elise Hawley, WFTO-Asia’s Sustainability Coordinator, talks about some of the highlights from her recent field trip.

Imagination, Aurovilleimagination

Conscious consumerism does not need to start with adults – teach children where their toys are made, too!

Imagination organization works with the local marginalized producers to develop Fair Trade dolls for Scandinavian countries. During the meeting I sat down with the group and we discussed a living wage. Calculating a food basket included debates as to how often bananas are purchased for the family and how much milk costs these days. It was agreed that the food prices need to be double checked at their local markets to ensure a concrete, up to date living wage.

merevilleMereville, Auroville

The visit to Mereville was a great introduction to the art of incense rolling. Every single stick is handmade. These women have mastered this skill of hand rolling so that they can make multiple sticks by the time one has burned. The smell of jasmine, sandalwood and more was amazing.

Ambala Hammocks, Pondicherryambala hammocks

The local women of Ambala weave together thin colours of threads to create sturdy hammocks. The woman in the photo attempted to teach me how to make the pattern. Much to her disappointment I couldn’t get the hang of it, but it certainly made me appreciate the incredible technical skills needed to create one hammock.

cottage industriesCottage Industries, Pondicherry

Cottage Industries has a long history in Pondicherry. The organization is associated with the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The kind and gentle nature of the Ashram traverses into the tranquil work environment. Captured is my shopping basket from their store full of incense, soaps and such delights of a similar nature.

Auromira, Pondicherry

Although an immensely cheerful group, trying to capture a smile on camera auromirawas a not so simple. What is not included in this picture is the Auromira team who were behind me, the photographer, cracking jokes and throwing hand gestures to get a good smile for the camera. This image was part of our photo series for the Guaranteed Label launch. Auromira has made stickers of their WFTO label and puts it on their packaging. Their packaging is sustainable, too. They use compostable plastic – very neat!

daughters interionsDaughters Interior, Bangalore

This provisional member has an impressive amount of additional facilities for their staff. Children have a space to come and do their homework, with the help of a tutor, while they wait for their moms to finish work. A crèche for children is on site, too. Overall, a very family oriented business.

Shilpa Trust, Bangalore

The Shilpa Trust team is a great group. When discussing their Internal Monitoring System (IMS) the team all added input showing a great cross level management system. In this picture we are at their head office. Here they even have the 10 Fair Trade principles painted on the wall, it is the first thing you see when walking to the office – a great daily reminder.

Naturveda, Pondicherrynaturveda

Naturveda has a strong level of commitment for natural ingredients. They recently became accredited under Environmental and Ethical Certification Institute (ICEA) based out of Italy. The unit they are working from was once a school, now it’s filled with delightful scents.

Godavari LaceGodavari Lace, Andra Pradesh

Watching the women of Godavari Lace crochet these products is mesmerizing. The nimble fingers turn into a blur as the needles and thread craft a purse, toy, and many more items. Godavari Lace has a long history in the area, providing a source of income for the women living in remote areas, often wives to coconut farmers. The work is done at home, but not alone as the women from the neighborhood often gather together to chat while they crochet.


Spending the day with SHARE working on their Self Assessment Report was sprinkled with laughter. But the work they do has serious impact. For women and by women, SHARE has empowered the 50 women they work with – supporting them to obtain their social security rights, vocalize their grievances with the local panchayat and have frequent workshops on Fair Trade. It is safe to say that everyone associated with SHARE can recite to you the Fair Trade principles.

workshopWorkshop, Pondicherry  

Auroville and Pondicherry have launched their Twin Town Fair Trade campaign. On the 18th of February workshop, Anjali of Mandala rallied the audience to join efforts in this movement. Activities have been numerous, a mela, a marathon and a runway show to come. These twin towns are going to be quite the hub for Fair Trade in India! On a side note, I would highly recommend stopping here on your way to the 2017 Delhi conference for a bit of Fair Trade tourism!