Download Asha’s latest FAIR TRADE REPORT or read below for more general infomation.
Our fair trade supplier (Asha Handicrafts) works with independent craftsmen and women in India, providing fair wages, advance payments where necessary, and support and advice to reach export markets. Their aim is to increase the craftsmen and women’s quality of life in a stable manner, enabling them to take on their own employees, improve their living conditions, and send their children to school.
Who is Asha Handicrafts?
Asha Handicrafts is a not-for-profit organisation founded in partnership with Tearfund in 1975. Their profits are re-invested in building capacity, improving working conditions, and welfare initiatives for the artisans, such as smoke-free LPG cooking facilities, water filters, and educational assistance grants for the artisans’ children.
How have you made sure that your suppliers are as ethical as they claim?
Most years we visit Asha and the workshops where our games are made. In 2012, we made an extended visit to the workshops without any representative from our supplier, just using our own independent interpreter. We interviewed as many craftsmen as we could, asking them about pay, working conditions, health, and lifestyle. Although we had some concerns about dust and electrical safety, our visit greatly increased our confidence in the fair trade credentials of our suppliers. Our concerns about electrical safety have been fully resolved, and dust levels are being reduced. You can read our detailed report about the visit here. Asha’s fair trade credentials have been commended to us by Ten Thousand Villages.
What about being fair trade?
Fair trade means refusing to take advantage of people’s poverty and weak bargaining position to drive down their wages and working conditions to undignified levels. For many products such as coffee, chocolate, and bananas, acceptable wages and conditions are stipulated and audited by organisations such as the Fairtrade Foundation, which then licenses use of the fair trade logo. No such standards have been created yet for wooden craft items such as Pucket & Rollet. However, we are 100% committed both to the spirit of fair trade, and to transparency about what we are doing so that you can judge the standards yourself. We’ve also joined the British Association For Fair Trade Shops, for which we have been carefully vetted.
Are Pucket games made from sustainably sourced wood?
The wood is bought locally, and comes from government plantations. We spoke to the Indian representative of the Forestry Stewardship Council – he told us that for the time being Sheesham wood is not endangered and is generally well managed. Unfortunately we cannot get FSC certified Sheesham, as the only FSC forest for Sheesham in India is over 1500 km away and was only certified in Feb 2013. We’ll continue to push wood sustainability, as it’s an issue we really care about.
Why not just make games in the UK?
We looked carefully at UK manufacture for Pucket when we were starting out, but the costs were prohibitive. We also feel it is worthwhile supporting Indian handicrafts. However, for each new game we release we look again at the pros and cons. Our strategy game Bridget, launched in 2013, was made in the UK for several years before the prisoner rehabilitation charity we were working with had to close their workshop – it’s now made in India like our other games.