Asha in Hindi means "Hope", an appropriate word to reflect our mission. Asha was born out of hope and prayer in 1975 and started its marketing operation to bring hope to craft workshops and family groups all over India by choosing the best of their products to sell to markets in the west. The Late Mrs. Iscah Andrews was the driving force behind the formation of Asha Handicrafts Association. She had a dream that Indian handicrafts could be used to bring self-help and respect to artisan communities, but it wasn't until she met George Hoffman of TearFund that she was able to realize it. George Hoffman was a businessman who had been looking at the same problem from the outside, seeing third world handicrafts as a means of freeing local communities from the burdens of poverty; ignorance and exploitation of middle-men. They recognized that modern marketing methods could bring these products to the West, where they would realize a fair price. Asha adopted this model from TearFund and thus began its operations. Mrs Andrews served Asha for 10 years up to 1985, leaving the reigns in the capable hands of Late Mr Nemani David Livingston, Business Director.
On 22nd November 1987, Mr. Livingston appointed Mr. Lucas Caldeira as a Business Development Manager at Asha. With his marketing experience, extensive travel, product development and various business strategies Asha's business began to grow. In 1995, Mr. Lucas Caldeira ventured into Fair Trade and Asha become a member of IFAT (now WFTO) at the conference held in USA. This membership opened up new relationships with many buyers. During the same year, Mr. Lucas Caldeira took on the responsibility of guiding Asha as its new CEO and began planning Asha’s future in a fresh way. With the growing popularity of Fair Trade, Asha raised the bar for itself and was Certified Guaranteed Fair Trade member in 2013.
Asha’s mission to Preserve, Protect & Promote Indian Handicrafts & the Indian Handicraft industry is supported by Fair Trade & vice versa. As of today, Asha works with artisans from all over India who produce area specific handicrafts.
Our Welfare Workers, at key craft centres, work for Artisan Welfare & Community development as their primary role, while also working as Asha’s Business Representatives to our producers. They regularly visit the producer’s workshops to monitor their compliance with the 10 Principles of Fair Trade and to follow up on current orders, as well as, new product developments. Adhering to the 10 Principles of Fair Trade have helped our producers and artisans grow sustainably, have greatly improved their standard of living and have spread happiness in their communities. This life changing impact is why we at Asha support Fair Trade.
In these lines, the WFTO has begun the process of establishing a Fair Trade Charter, which will be formally launched on the 25th of September’18. As of now, over 40 fair trade organizations from all over the world have recognized this charter. Asha Handicrafts Association is proud to be among these organizations and recognize the Fair Trade Charter.