Nepali Times Asian Paints
Review
Fair trade, Nepali style


AARTI BASNYAT


Alot of companies these days can be seen paying lip service to corporate social responsibility. It has become the buzzword and many times an excuse for business-as-usual.

Not Lotus Holdings though. The six-year-old venture company that launches new businesses runs Lotus Paper Crafts, Lotus Arts and Crafts, Fine Weaves, Formation Carpets and Trading for Development (TFD).

So far, TFD had been mainly involved in exporting Nepali manufactured goods but now, it hopes to market Nepali handicraft products in the Nepali market. The brains behind this 'buy Nepali' campaign are Shasta L Rana of TFD (pictured, below), Lotus President Sulo Shrestha Shah and Director, Ajay Bikram Shah.

Nepali handicrafts have seen a boom in recent times and the group believes the domestic market is now getting more conscious of house d?cor, using Nepali products, architecture and style to give it the authentic Nepali touch.

"It made sense to try and penetrate the Nepali market and promote Nepali handicrafts," says Shasta Rana, who hopes that as a socially-conscious organisation TFD can help local handicrafts gain a foothold in the local market for instance by reviving the pashmina boom here and giving copper craft a new twist. Shasta recruited many of the craftsmen herself, taking products out of storage and creating new designs.

But producers are used to the prices they get for exports of handicrafts like pashminas, how can they be affordable for Nepalis? "We will rectify this by keeping a minimum profit margin and dealing directly with the producers and eliminating middlemen," Shasta explains, though she admits the real challenge is to compete with cheap Chinese products. Although TFD is not a non-profit organisation, she says there is a way to stay afloat and still provide affordable products.

TFD has participated in trade fairs abroad, but is organising its first-ever fair in Nepal next week and plans to have one every six months at its new showroom in Jawalakhel. TFD will not just sell its own products but also provide shoppers with a 'one stop' arena. Customers can make both bulk purchases as well as loose goods. They can design and order their own products and not have to run around Kathmandu trying to find what they want.

If TFD had a motto it would be: 'high-quality Nepali goods that are environmentally and socially friendly at affordable prices'. TFD doesn't use child labour, single and widowed women are given employment, and one percent of their revenue is donated to the needly children charity, 'Hoste-hainse'.

But producers are used to the prices they get for exports of handicrafts like pashminas, how can they be affordable for Nepalis? "We will rectify this by keeping a minimum profit margin and dealing directly with the producers and eliminating middlemen," Shasta explains, though she admits the real challenge is to compete with cheap Chinese products. Although TFD is not a non-profit organisation, she says there is a way to stay afloat and still provide affordable products.

TFD has participated in trade fairs abroad, but is organising its first-ever fair in Nepal next week and plans to have one every six months at its new showroom in Jawalakhel. TFD will not just sell its own products but also provide shoppers with a 'one stop' arena. Customers can make both bulk purchases as well as loose goods. They can design and order their own products and not have to run around Kathmandu trying to find what they want.

If TFD had a motto it would be: 'high-quality Nepali goods that are environmentally and socially friendly at affordable prices'. TFD doesn't use child labour, single and widowed women are given employment, and one percent of their revenue is donated to the needly children charity, 'Hoste-hainse'.

TFD exhibition is on from 12-19 December at the HB Complex, Ekanta Kuna.
www.tfd.com



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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