Mata Traders from Nepal

Artisan Mata Traders

Too often in the global marketplace, women are given the short end of the economic stick. But at Mata Traders, this fair-trade cooperative's name says it all. 'Mata' is the Hindi word for 'mother.' In rural and slum areas of Nepal and India, women working for Mata Traders are given a child-friendly environment in which to work and an on-site daycare.

Women like Anita, who moved to Mumbai from a rural area where she and her husband tenant-farmed but could not made a living wage, are given an opportunity to earn and improve their lives. Now Anita is able to invest money into their six-year-old son's education.

Co-op members who might not have other opportunities are given training, decent work conditions, plus other benefits – on-site daycare, paid maternity leave, health care, vision testing, and retirement pensions. They also receive lessons in reading, computers, and financial education to help them advance their life skills. Mostly, though, the women are grateful for the life-changing opportunities that a fair wage gives them.

Mata Traders creates handmade apparel and jewelry– with an emphasis on 'hand.' Some items are sewn with pedal-powered machines due to frequent power-outages, but the producers also spin their own thread, weave cloth, embroider or use traditional wooden block printing techniques to decorate fabrics. Each woman completes an entire dress, individually, they don't work assembly-line-style – thus when shown a catalog of Mata Trader products, they proudly point to the ones they themselves made.

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