Sarba Shanti Ayog, Kolkata (Sasha)
The services extended by SSA to Sasha producer groups and in select cases to new potential craft groups can be broadly listed as below:
1. Product & Skill development/ upgradation/ diversification inputs: With Sasha (SACP) designers, external designers, design students from premier design schools and with experienced resource persons, we engage with producer groups into contemporary product development, innovating, expanding & diversifying product ranges and upgrading & enhancing the skill levels – keeping the originality and indigenous creativity intact and building on that.
2. Market Promotion & Market Access assistance- Direct promotion and market access activities are done through Sasha (SACP) but SSA facilitates – through creative & communication persons, agencies and networks etc.- in Brand building & promotion, trade fairs and expositions, exposures, public events and advocacy, including media engagement as required. SSA, Sasha and external design, marketing, technical & operational team alongwith external resources address the business development services comprehensively.
3. Scan studies & needs assessment – SSA team, with STAA, SCS & Sasha producer support teams conducts needs assessment of its producer groups, based on scanning of their baselines, gaps, SWOT etc.
4. Technical Assistance – Trainings and hand-holding supports provided by SSA and its empanelled consultants/ resource persons on improving operational & organisational efficiency of the producers. This is done at two levels – general workshops and training at the group leaders’ level and specific counselling, handholding, workshop and interfacing at respective group level, on:
- Production & quality management
- Financial management, costing, pricing (w.r.t fair wage, fair pricing concepts)
- Know-how & process improvement, sourcing, quality, certification etc.
- systems & procedures (contextual and practical, based on their ground realities), including quality certification
- Organisational development, re-engineering and restructuring- need based
- working conditions & environmental compliances
5. Micro Enterprise Financing -
A special purpose rolling fund was created out of Sasha’s business income. This initiative has been appreciated by development agencies & bankers and with their further assistance a sizeable fund was made available for lending to the artisans groups/ units for their business needs- infrastructure as well as working capital. The fund is flexible, friendly and operated upon the principles of Fair Trade partnership, solidarity and long term trading relationship.
6. Information systems & service: SSA was instrumental in implementing an integrated computerized supply chain management system covering various layers of Sasha’s Fair Trade Value Chain – right from production information to shipments, transactions, on-line records and exhaustive MIS.
In addition, SSA has a resource base to access & provide critical information on quality, exports, market trends, promotional opportunities, support schemes, resource persons, institutes, agencies, supply sources and so on. It had also developed a prototype for an interactive, on-line information service: Craft Helpline.
7. Evaluation & Monitoring: SSA team, with its resource persons, conduct Fair Trade evaluations of the producer groups and Impact Assessment of Fair Trade on the groups and its communities. It has done joint assessment and facilitated many external evaluations and audits.
8. Economic Security & social empowerment:
SSA with support staff and people from artisan communities undertake financial literacy programmes among the artisanal families and their surrounding communities. It facilitates financial inclusion as well by way of group savings and linkages to life & health insurance. In addition, it has tied up with resource agencies in health and education sector to initiate local health services and community coaching.
9. Networking & advocacy: SSA is instrumental in organising network meetings, seminars, symposium, discussion forums and developing position papers etc. to promote and advocate Fair Trade in various forums, to various constituency & target audiences.
All these services have resulted in increased capacities of the target groups, improvement in their assets, tools, skills and operational efficiency. It has eased their financial bottlenecks and provides access to timely & relevant information. The know-how inputs have resulted in better quality, lesser failures, new products, improved productivity all resulting in greater customer servicing. More importantly all these grassroots business have internalized and demonstrate transparency, participation, equity of gender, rights of the children and care for environment, working conditions and welfare. All the units serviced by Sasha/ SSA follow fair business practices, produce sustainable, authentic and beautiful craft & food items and are sensitive towards resources, energy, pollution, effluents, are active on the welfare of its people. The unique, participative model anchored by Sasha/ SSA has resulted in strong network of producer associations that self manage its affairs and constantly strives for excellence in servicing the customer and benefiting the community. Thus, Sasha & SSA through its marketing, business development & social development services create more and more sustainable Fair Trade Businesses at the base of the pyramid.