Spotlight On Namaste: Suppliers of Fair Trade Craft Goods
With everything from tasteful, hand-printed bedding, handmade cushion covers and jute rugs, to hand-painted Christmas decorations for your home, Namaste’s huge range of fair trade products is impressive to say the least. If you’d like to delve a little deeper into the wonderful world of Namaste, discovering more about their values, beliefs, partner companies and effect on their wider communities – join us as we shine the spotlight on this inspirational company.
Namaste are passionate about harnessing traditional artisanal skills and sourcing beautiful, fairly traded products from all over the world. Namaste seeks to support marginalised, small producers and help workers transition to economic self-sufficiency. The manufacture of goods for Namaste generates income for the local community, which in turn enriches the quality of life of the local community.
But first, let us take you right back to the start. It was back in 1995 when Namaste’s founder, Sam Brummitt, flew to Kathmandu, Nepal with a round the world ticket. He jetted off purely in search of adventure, but little did he know the scale of the adventure which awaited him.
After an inspirational trek to Mount Everest base camp, followed by a six month long road trip circumnavigating the Indian Subcontinent on re-conditioned ex-Indian Army motorbikes and sleeping beneath the stars at the side of the road most nights, the idea for the business slowly developed. Sam was amazed by the incredible kindness and hospitality of the local people and quickly developed a fascination with and a passion for this amazing country. But, at this point, Sam’s idea for a business was nothing more than just that, an idea.
It was a chance conversation with Ganpat, an owner of a small textile business, in Rajasthan, which sparked the idea that Sam should come back home and set up the business for real. Thus, Namaste was born. Apart from being a lifelong friend, Ganpat is now a key supplier for Namaste, closing the circle perfectly. Namaste, named after a popular greeting, translates as 'I greet the spirit within you' and was founded in 1997.
For Sam, starting a business meant earning a living while putting something back into such a beautiful and wonderful part of the world and that's exactly what happened. Over two decades on, Namaste’s mission to bring hope to the lives of artisans around the world remains the same, as well as still being fully committed to ensuring that products, where possible, are made from environmentally-friendly, sustainable and recycled materials.
What does Namaste believe in?
Namaste believe in honesty, equality and transparency. Although a small company, they have ambitious ethical policies based upon the belief that the best way to reduce poverty in the developing world is through trade.
Namaste work with disadvantaged and marginalised producers and help them to develop their businesses, so that ultimately they can become financially stronger and more independent. They provide job security and many other benefits for the artisans they work with, which has a positive effect on their lives, as well as their families and wider communities.
When it comes to payment, Namaste pays an advance to allow the producer to buy raw materials and start making the order without getting into financial difficulty. They never ask for or take credit terms from any suppliers, which other non-fair trade companies can be guilty of, leaving the producers in a financial plight. When the goods are shipped, they have been paid for in full – without exception.
Namaste also ensure that no one under the age of 16 is involved in factory-based production of products, contributing towards changing the status quo in developing countries regarding child labour. Many items are actually crafted within artisans’ own homes, where they can earn an income whilst allowing them to look after their families at the same time.
Many of the producers which Namaste work with are members of the National Fair Trade Organisation, where others are members of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO), of which Traidcraft are a co-founder. Being a member of WFTO means that they should adhere to WTFO’s strict fair trade regulations and must regularly review their principles to ensure that they are in line with WFTO’s 10 principles which fair trade organisations must follow. The majority of producers which Namaste work with are from India & Nepal, with several in each of Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. Some are small-scale artisan producers who often don’t have the ability to become registered fair trade producers, but are still treated and paid fairly by Namaste.
Certification: Namaste and GoodWeave
GoodWeave is on a mission to end child labour and trafficking in global supply chains, by establishing clear and rigorous standards which employers must adhere to, as well as regularly auditing and inspecting production sites, reaching layers of the supply chain which were previously invisible. These independent and unannounced inspections provide a very strong reason for suppliers to make sure that all of their supply chain adheres to the rule of no child labour and decent working conditions.
GoodWeave partners with 350 companies worldwide; their work has led to the freedom and education of over 24,000 children and improved working conditions for almost 60,000 adult workers.
Namaste have been selling fairly traded rugs from India for many years. More recently, they have taken the extra step of GoodWeave certification for all of their Indian rugs, providing the added reassurance of this totally independent monitoring body. Namaste are proud to support this pioneering charity that seeks to end child labour in rug weaving and which also has a large program to educate and develop rug weaving communities.
Namaste is currently involved in a pilot project with GoodWeave to extend their excellent work into home textiles.
Namaste and Child Recuse Nepal
Child Rescue Nepal works to free children from slavery, which is acutely in line with Namaste’s values and is why they have been supporting them for almost 20 years. There are over 22 million people trapped in slavery globally, and it is estimated that around a quarter of these are children. In Nepal alone, it is estimated that there are almost 100,000 vulnerable child slaves working in hazardous situations, where they are commonly exposed to physical, emotional and sexual abuse. They work with local police to raid factories, restaurants and hotels where children are being held captive, prosecute perpetrators of the abuse, raise awareness of trafficking in schools and work to provide counselling and medical care in their safe houses.
Child Rescue Nepal have improved education for 40,000 children, raised £150,000 for earthquake relief, pursued the prosecution of 24 traffickers in Nepal and India and rescued and brought to safety nearly 700 children. They promise that they won’t stop until every child is free, which is why Namaste contribute a percentage of all purchases from Nepal to the charity. Keep an eye on our site for our ever-changing range of products which support Child Rescue Nepal!