So Why 'Shakti Man'?

 

Shakti - a Hindi word commonly used in India and Nepal: the divine force that manifests to restore balance.

 

Man - we're based on the beautiful Isle of Man in the British Isles.

 

'Shakti Man' - well he's also a super hero in India (but we humans are all super heroes!)

 

It was our dream, to support communities that we loved, to be the bridge between east and west, where culture and diversity could be celebrated. In 2002 we started a charity called 'Shakti Nepal' and our aim was to fund projects in Nepal that would support children and nature. Our projects grew, and we found new and wonderful ways to reach out and share the celebration of connection. At first we sold Fair Trade goods on market stalls and at festivals, then finally in 2004 we opened our doors as a real shop on the Isle of Man. Our customers seemed to love what we did - and 2 years later we moved next door into a bigger shop and diversified into eco and natural fibres. Our links in Asia grew quickly as, believe it or not, the fair trade movement is actually quite small. We made new friends and began trading with more and more organisations that worked for the benefit of all. Our first mission of raising funds for our projects in Nepal now seemed like a real possibility.

And today, all of our products are sourced fairly and responsibly – we are a member of the British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers. We only deal with Fair Trade and ethical companies who have 'fair for all ethics' and 'environmental sustainability and regeneration' at the top of their agenda and our wonderful products come from skilled artisans all over the world. We trade with real people, many of which have become our great friends - who create the very best of traditional art and craft. Our founder, Leni, has travelled extensively and now - as much as in the beginning - Shakti Man shopping is about people care, fair share and earth care and represents a simple celebration of culture, diversity and global awareness. Over the years, we have developed enriching, long lasting and successful working relationships and are now able to support many wonderful organisations, social and environmental projects and co-operatives. Fair Trade makes a powerful difference, helping to alleviate poverty in the world's most marginalised communities.  

We are still very proud to be able to share our successes with projects each year, some local, some within the developing world, including our wonderful Shakti Children's Home in Kathmandu - and the ethos that we began with – where everyone gets to benefit – is as alive as it ever was. It’s a little like an upside down way of doing business, we don’t do business with ethical commitments, we do business because of our ethical commitments.

 

 

Fair  Trade - What does that mean?

                                    

Most of our suppliers are either members of WFTO (World Fair Trade Organisations) or BAFTS (British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers) and as such follow ethical trading standards known as the '10 Fair Trade Principles' which are as follows:

 

1: Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers

Poverty reduction through trade forms a key part of our aim. We support marginalized small producers, whether these are independent family businesses, or grouped in associations or co-operatives. We seek to enable them to move from income insecurity and poverty to economic self-sufficiency and ownership. 

 

2: Transparency and Accountability

Transparency is the key and we follow this in our management and commercial relations. We respect the sensitivity and confidentiality of commercial information supplied and we find appropriate, participatory ways to involve employees and producers in the decision-making processes. Relevant information is provided to all trading partners and our communication channels are good and open at all levels of the supply chain.

 

3: Fair Trading Practices

We trade with concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of marginalized small producers and do not maximize profit at their expense. We are responsible and professional in meeting commitments in a timely manner. Our suppliers aim to respect contracts and deliver products on time and to the desired quality and specifications. (Fair Trade buyers, recognizing the financial disadvantages producers and suppliers face, ensure orders are paid on receipt of documents and according to the attached guidelines. An interest free pre-payment of at least 50% is made if requested. Long term relationships are based on solidarity, trust and mutual respect that contribute to the promotion and growth of Fair Trade. Parties involved in a trading relationship seek to increase the volume of the trade between them and the value and diversity of their product offer as a means of growing Fair Trade for the producers in order to increase their incomes. Organisations work co-operatively with the other Fair Trade Organisations and avoid unfair competition. It avoids duplicating the designs of patterns of other organisations without permission. Fair Trade recognizes, promotes and protects the cultural identity and traditional skills of small producers as reflected in their craft designs, food products and other related services.)

 

4:   Payment of a Fair Price

A fair price is one that has been mutually agreed by all through dialogue and participation, which provides fair pay to the producers and can also be sustained by the market. Where Fair Trade pricing structures exist, these are used as a minimum. Fair pay means provision of socially acceptable remuneration (in the local context) considered by producers themselves to be fair and which takes into account the principle of equal pay for equal work by women and men. Fair Trade marketing and importing organisations support capacity building as required to producers, to enable them to set a fair price.

 

5:  Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor

All organisations adhere to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and national / local law on the employment of children. (Organisations who buy Fair Trade products from producer groups either directly or through intermediaries ensure that no forced labor is used in production and the producer complies with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and national / local law on the employment of children. Any involvement of children in the production of Fair Trade products (including learning a traditional art or craft) is always disclosed and monitored and does not adversely affect the children's well-being, security, educational requirements and need for play.)

 

6:  Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment and Freedom of Association

A Fair Trade organisation does not discriminate in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV/Aids status or age. (A clear policy and plan will be in place to promote gender equality that ensures that women as well as men have the ability to gain access to the resources that they need to be productive and also the ability to influence the wider policy, regulatory, and institutional environment that shapes their livelihoods and lives. Constitutions and by-laws allow for and enable women to become active members in their own right or to take up leadership positions regardless of women’s status in relation to ownership of assets such as land and property. Where women are employed within the organisation, even where it is an informal employment situation, they receive equal pay for equal work. The organisation recognizes women’s full employment rights and is committed to ensuring that women receive their full statutory employment benefits. The organisation takes into account the special health and safety needs of pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers.)

 

7:  Ensuring Good Working Conditions

Safe and healthy working environments for employees and / or members are in place. Organisations comply, at a minimum, with national and local laws and ILO conventions on health and safety. Working hours and conditions for employees and / or members (and any homeworkers) comply with conditions established by national and local laws and ILO conventions. (Fair Trade Organisations are aware of the health and safety conditions in the producer groups they buy from. They seek, on an ongoing basis, to raise awareness of health and safety issues and improve health and safety practices in producer groups.)

 

8:  Providing Capacity Building

We seek to increase positive developmental impacts for small, marginalized producers through Fair Trade. (To develop the skills and capabilities of their own employees or members. Organisations working directly with small producers develop specific activities to help these producers improve their management skills, production capabilities and access to markets - local / regional / international / Fair Trade and mainstream as appropriate.)

 

9:  Promoting Fair Trade

Fair Trade organisations raise awareness of the aim of Fair Trade and of the need for greater justice in world trade through Fair Trade. It advocates for the objectives and activities of Fair Trade according to the scope of the organization. The organization provides its customers with information about itself, the products it markets, and the producer organisations or members that make or harvest the products. Honest advertising and marketing techniques are always used.

 

10: Respect for the Environment

All organisations which produce Fair Trade products maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges, buying locally when possible. They use production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption and where possible use renewable energy technologies that minimize greenhouse gas emissions. They seek to minimize the impact of their waste stream on the environment. Fair Trade agricultural commodity producers minimize their environmental impacts, by using organic or low pesticide use production methods wherever possible.

Buyers and importers of Fair Trade products give priority to buying products made from raw materials that originate from sustainably managed sources, and have the least overall impact on the environment. All organisations use recycled or easily biodegradable materials for packing to the extent possible, and goods are dispatched by sea wherever possible.

 

 

Questions

We are here to answer your questions especially if you would like to know more about fair trade, eco fibres, a particular product, production methods or social benefits to producers. Please phone us on 01624 815060 or write to us at info@shaktiman.co.uk or even better post us a letter! We're at Shakti Man, 18 Parliament Street, Ramsey, Isle of Man, IM8 1AP. We would love to hear from you if you have any questions, comments or suggestions or if you just need a chat...