"How you spend your money is a vote for the kind of world you want."
We all want to help make the world a better place. We want to make a difference. But how can we do it? What changes can we make in our day to day lives which will contribute to the greater good?
Where you spend your dollar is a good starting point and giving thought to who benefits when you buy a product can transform into powerful shopping choices.
Spending your money at ISHKA helps village people in developing communities. Although ISHKA is a profit organisation and not formally linked with any charity group, we strongly believe in the benefit of trade in village craft, where on average $100 of sales gives 3 days' work to the maker.
The ethical and political effects of dealing with developing countries are matters that we at ISHKA have been considering for many years and have always taken seriously.
World craft is of major interest to people who work at ISHKA and it's not just their day job. Many staff members have been employed for over 10 years, as their belief in the company and its values is so strong.
We support worthwhile organisations like Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders and are also proud to be an ethically approved supplier of the OXFAM shops in Australia. We also collect money for the Dhammarajika orphanage in Bangladesh and other causes.
Where as the majority of what we sell is from developing countries, we also stock Australian craft and have a broader world perspective. All members of staff have a genuine interest in travel and culture; between us it's fair to say we've travelled and lived in the four corners of the earth! This gives a unique appreciation and celebration of this diverse world.
Trade occurs mainly with Afghanistan, China, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam. In general most ISHKA stock comes from villages, providing much needed income in areas where there are not many options. Pay is of course very low by Australian standards, but good by local standards. The fact that money can be earned locally has the effect of reducing the flow of people moving from their traditional living areas into the big cities. This is an important contribution to anyone who respects traditional cultures.
Over the decades we have seen many of our suppliers, including refugees and minority people become materially successful. This has allowed them to improve their living conditions, education and health of their children.
The majority of ISHKA goods are made in work places in which it's pleasant to spend time. Things happen at a gentle pace and come to a complete stop whenever friends, festivals or distractions present themselves.
All traditional societies give children responsibilities and involve children in their creative processes such as dance, music, weaving and artifact production. While not believing that a factory is a suitable place for a child, and not buying this type of work, ISHKA sells some child craft made in the family context and some from refugee camps where schooling is not an option. ISHKA plays an important role in keeping alive traditional skills.
We have direct dealings with the artisans in nearly all cases and have set up systems involving a business-wise local with an office and packing/export experience, to co-ordinate and pay for suppliers' shipments after checking the work against our instructions. We investigate workshops of suppliers and examine the work conditions of the artisans.
Our team of buyers spends time training local people in product design and the procedures required to export to Australia. This always raises their ability to manage business with anyone they choose.
Please realise that when you buy world craft from ISHKA, you are assisting many communities. A shop like ours contains thousands of hours of skilled labour, paid in advance.