Equitable Marketing Association
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The Equitable Marketing Association (EMA) was founded in Kolkata in 1977 and is currently known as one of the oldest fair-trade organisations in India. The EMA is a development organisation which strives to aid minority communities by marketing their handmade products around the world. Certified as a fair trade organisation, the EMA's non-profit marketing objective is to help economically disadvantaged groups involved in the production of handicrafts to earn their own living in a fair and equitable way. Fair trade empowers disadvantaged communities by paying them fair and stable prices for their work, helping them to gain the skills they need to develop their business, and providing them with access to world markets.
The number of EMA members is constantly growing as awareness of the organisations work increases, with their main objective to improve the livelihood of women and minority communities, as well as those with economical and physical difficulties. Through the EMA, the craftsmanship of local artisans is showcased internationally by the export of their leather products, candles and musical instruments.
Whilst the EMA itself is entirely export-oriented, its field workers are also helping to establish their own market contacts within India. For the future, the EMA hope to continue increasing the size and activity of their organisation, specifically through exploring the commercial domestic market, which has been steadily growing over the past several years.
The EMA has provided financial support to over 47 producer groups, such as offering interest-free loans to finance the purchase of raw and packaging materials, transporting goods for sale, and ensuring fair payment of worker wages.
Another benefit the EMA brings to the lives of local producers and their communities is their charity, Ekta Trust. Ekta Trust provides support to local artisans in the form of scholarships, which are intended to assist with the costs associated with starting a business, the donation of textbooks to students, and the creation of a support and development centre specifically for women. The development centre allows all 230 artisans and staff to work and interact together every day. Before the development centre was opened, there were artisans who could hardly afford one square meal a day, and are now earning a fair wage and being provided with medical and educational aid.
As the Ekta Trust also has a commitment to being an environmentally sustainable part of the community, it aims to plant 10,000 trees per year in their artisans local areas. This is made possible by members of the local youth clubs in South Kolkata who help in the preparation and planting of the trees. Providing its employees with a retirement plan, pension, medical insurance and a yearly bonus, the EMA is a well respected member of the World Fair Trade Organisation. The leather products made by the producers of the EMA are obtained from the skin of goat, cow and buffalo, with the raw material purchased from the tannery located at Bantalla, 20 km away from Central Kolkata. Whilst some sources of finished leather is tanned with a mixture of chemicals, this leather is instead tanned with ingredients derived from vegetable matter, tree bark and other sources, making it more ecologically sustainable than other commercial leathers. The leather is initially prepared for tanning within the factory, before undergoing extensive leather preparation processes, such as shaving, dyeing, hanging, softening, colouring, milling, and ironing. The sheets are then measured and cut into the required length, breadth and heights.