Ancient Artisanal Traditions meet Modern Day Poverty Solutions in Nepal

Posted by on August 16, 2011 in Asia, charity, Entrepreneurship, poverty

As we continue to grow our selection of products and range of communities and cultures we work with, Shopanthropic is excited to be collaborating with artisans in Nepal through a recently formed partnership with cooperatives in the country. Across this ancient country, artisans are using their age-old traditions and production methods to create beautiful handicrafts.

The products they make have a focus on using natural resources and preserving Nepal’s ancient art forms. Products such as finger puppets are hand-made by artisans in Nepal, using local materials such as felt, a material made out of sheep wool. Felt is a hand-made 100% non-woven woolen fiber matted together by hot water and pressure without spinning, weaving or knitting.  Additionally, Nepali artisans are known for their Nepali paper-products that are recycled, made by ancient techniques, and incorporate traditional Nepali art.

Hailing from small farmer communities across Nepal, felters, spinners, weavers and more are trying to use their skillset to raise themselves and their communities out of poverty. Growing up in difficult conditions, many of these individuals, particularly women, face severe hurdles that have left them impoverished and despondent. For example, a woman might have her family’s land repossessed by the government if no living male heirs are available to take ownership of the land. She might have been denied education and skills-training due to the fact that she is female. This uneducated woman would most likely be responsible for supporting a large family with or without support from a husband. Though this is just an example of what life might be like for such villagers, it is a life that millions lead in Nepal.

Community taboos, illiteracy, a lack of infrastructure and poverty leave such individuals poor and alone and this is where the value of cooperatives truly show. Cooperatives - organization that are owned and run jointly through its members, who share the profits and benefits of the organization - allow such individuals to receive financial & technical support, giving them ‘work based-training’, and creating income–generating programmes that directly benefit low income groups, especially women.

How does it work? Individuals could join a cooperative and try out different skills required in making products such as spinning, weaving or felting, until they find something they enjoy. Here they will get training, support and assistance in meeting the basic needs of their families. By bringing together such a large labour force, the cooperative is able to produce mass amounts of products and create a larger financial return for its members.

While poverty is not completely eradicated through these efforts, these artisans are able to provide for their families through an increase in income. Additionally, the stability of a job with fair wages allows these individuals to gain a sense of self-respect and pride. It allows them to be independent and stand up against the taboos of their society. And so the poor artisans of Nepal have hope that they can improve their lives, their family’s lives, and the infrastructure and stability of their communities.

Currently, Shopanthropic is carrying sets of finger puppets that are a part of our collection supporting Earth Rangers. 25% of sale proceeds from this collection will go to benefit the work of Earth Rangers (http://www.earthrangers.org/blog/support-earth-rangers-with-shopanthropic/).

Tarini

Shopanthropic is a social venture based on the concept of using purchasing power as a tool to promote social change locally and internationally. We provide sustainable fashion and lifestyle products that are inspired by the latest trends from around the world.

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