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Noah’s Ark began as a single-room workshop in a family home in Moradabad, and has now grown into a successful fair-trade marketing organisation, working with approximately 40 artisan groups and over 300 artisans across India. The organisation was created in 1986 by Samuel Masih, who was determined to help artisans become self-sustainable after he learnt about their exploitation by middlemen and exporters. As a member of the International Fair Trade Association (IFTA), Noah’s Ark ensures good healthcare, education and housing for its artisans, and encourages and values their traditional skills and craftsmanship.
Helping artisans achieve independence has been one of Noah’s Arks primary goals, and it is now common for members to split off from the organisation to form their own workshops. Since 1986, about 20 artisans have successfully become independent from Noah’s Ark, which has allowed for new families to join the business. Noah’s Ark also continues to assist the independence of its workers by providing low / no interest loans for their new business needs when they leave the organisation.
As a proud fair-trade organisation, Noah’s Ark’s mission has been to change lives through education, and to help artisans become more aware of fair working conditions. Noah’s Ark pays its artisans 20% more than the government’s minimum wage, and ensures men and women are paid equally. Offering invaluable employment to mothers, Noah’s Ark enables women to work from home and where they can balance their work with their children’s needs and their household responsibilities.
Noah’s Ark also provides basic nutritional health, education and housing for the artisans and their families, and Samuel Masih, founder of the organisation, continues to invest the businesses earnings into the training of its artisan’s and marketing of their products. Through building a strong presence in the fair-trade community, 90% of Noah’s Ark’s sales are to IFTA members.
Noah’s Ark does not promote child labour in any way and refuses to buy goods from artisans where child labour is used. Noah’s Ark provides educational grants to its employees, as well as supporting the education of the children of artisans and their staff. Through the profits made by Noah’s Ark, they have recently built a school to provide free education to not only the artisan’s children, but also children in surrounding communities who do not have other education opportunities, such as those who work the fields of Moradabad.
Moradabad is a city renowned for its brassware, and it is where generations have passed down their skills and designs for beautiful handicrafts. Noah’s Ark uses recycled metals as its raw material –old car radiators, copper wire and broken brassware. All of this goes into the melting pot to be melted down and upcycled into stylish bowls, kitchenware and decorative items for around the home. Interestingly enough, as much of this scrap metal is imported, you never know if your old car radiator may be melted into one of Noah’s Ark’s beautiful bowls!
It’s not only metal products though, Noah’s Ark also produces wood crafts, cutlery, handmade paper products, bone and horn products, glass, jewelry and textiles.
Harswaroon Singh has been working with Noah’s Ark for thirteen years. He started as a repairing person and is now the Assistant Manager and also has the liberty to design his own products and supply to Noah’s Ark. Harswaroon says, “The kind of facility and self-respect we are getting here is nowhere to see. I left Noah’s Ark for a year and tried to find a job or even tried to do my own work, but I wasn’t successful and I was at the point of ruin. So I came back to Noah’s Ark and started at the same position where I left and they gave me the same treatment. So now the whole family is very thankful to them.”