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Namaste Made in Thailand - Hand carved mango wood fruit bowl

Recycled enamelled aluminium platter

Set of notebooks covered with Himalayan hand made paper

Namaste? How do you say it

At Namaste we prefer to understand it as “I greet the spirit within you.” It was 1995 when the intrepid

and what does it mean? J

Everything you wanted to know about this leading fair trade importer. old friends.

ust say “Na-mass-tay.” It is in fact a term of greeting used throughout Nepal and northern India. Some translate it simply as “Hello.”

However exciting the expedition had been, it was hard to ignore the gaping disparity between the wealth of the west and the poverty of India. If this importing business was going to continue, then they hoped to do so with at least integrity, honour and fairness.

Namaste three set off for Everest Base Camp on an adventure to see something of the world. Starting in Nepal, they then headed to Delhi for a quick visit to India. And stayed for six months. Buying a couple of old Indian Army Royal Enfi eld Bullet motorbikes, they rode off to explore this remarkable country with its warm and hospitable people. They slept under the stars and were welcomed by people who had little, but were proud and happy to welcome and share with this dishevelled rabble from the UK. But it was to be a holiday with a

difference. In Rajasthan they met a man called Ganpat who owned a small textile business. Ganpat felt that it would be an awful pity if they were to leave India without buying a shipment of textiles, preferably from him. He was so persuasive that it would have seemed impolite not to place an order. Our heroes emptied out their pockets, prevailed upon friends and family to do the same and one day a few boxes duly arrived at a remote farm outhouse in Yorkshire. Ganpat remains a supplier of Namaste to this day.

18 gifts today

Handcarved Mango Wood Photo Frames

Handcarved, handpainted wooden hearts

Hand printed and embroidered shoulder bag with fl owers and beads

Namaste joined BAFTS [The British Association for Fair Trade Shops] quite early on as a recognised fair trade importer. It is hard to improve upon their summary of fair trade aspiration, “All involved in Fair Trade accept that it has to include: paying fair prices to producers which refl ect the true cost of production, supporting producer organisations in their social and environmental projects, promoting gender equality in pay and working conditions, advising on product development to increase access to markets, committing to long term relationships to provide stability and security and campaigning to highlight the unequal system of world trade which places profi t above human rights and threatens our environment.” Namaste still sources the majority

of goods from India and Nepal and also buys from Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Kenya. Three or four buying and design trips are undertaken each year which are a combination of looking for new suppliers, developing ongoing supplier relationships and keeping in touch with

If fair trade sounds easy, it isn’t. In

reality, we do a lot of soul searching and we do our best. We have a necessarily lengthy questionnaire at the outset of our business relationship, which really does set out to establish the ethical credentials. For some of our most disadvantaged suppliers this is far from easy as language skills are often a problem. We do set out with the notion that we want to help disadvantaged suppliers fi nd a market for their goods. When we started buying from our clothing supplier in Nepal, he was struggling for money and lacked the wherewithal to export. We loaned him money to develop his premises and gave him advances to fi nance textiles and labour to make our orders. Perhaps most valuable has been the design and specifying guidance that we have been able to give. And it is good to see that he is now no longer a disadvantaged supplier, but now a proud businessman who exports mainly to the United States. And he remains an important manufacturer of our clothing.

Although we believe in, “Trade, not aid,” we believe that there remains a very valid place for charitable work. Namaste has been supporting the Esther Benjamins Trust for many years now. The Trust rescues Nepalese children who have been traffi cked

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