AARONG is a fair trade organisation dedicated to bringing about positive changes in the lives of disadvantaged artisans and underprivileged rural women by reviving and promoting their skills and crafts. Among the artisans Aarong reaches out to are weavers, potters, brass workers, jewellers, jute workers, basket weavers, wood carvers, leather workers and more. Aarong's goals include:
- empowering destitute rural women by providing opportunities for employment and income generation
- ensuring the commercial success of the enterprise of women producers
- reviving the traditional skills of rural artisans.
Aarong embraces and nurtures a diverse representation of 65,000 artisans, 85% of whom are women. More than forty thousand of these women work directly for Aarong in its 13 production centres (Foundations) in Baniachong, Gorpara, Jamalpur, Jessore, Kushtia, Manikganj, Rajbari, Sherpur, and Pabna, Pollobi, Kurigram, Nilphamary, Jhenaidah including 653 sub centres spread across Bangladesh. Twenty-five thousand independent co-operative groups and traditional family-based artisans also market their crafts through Aarong. Potters, brass workers, jewellers, jute workers, basket weavers, hand-loom weavers, silk weavers, wood carvers, leather workers and various artisans with specialized skills from all over the country come to Aarong for marketing and support services.
Every single woman who works in Aarong-owned production facilities is also a beneficiary of BRAC's (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) multifaceted development programmes. As a support entity of BRAC, a significant portion of Aarong's earnings go directly into financing the NGO's (non-governmental organisation) development programmes in healthcare and education as well as economic and social development. Specific benefits for producers include:
- free medical check-ups including free eye treatment, eye-glasses and treatment costs for severe illnesses
- advance wage payments for employees in need
- day care services
- workers' retirement fund
- artisans receive an hourly rate which is deemed to be fair with Aarong minimising its overheads where possible.
Further, AARONG also assists with design and development, market information and quality control, and provides advances against purchase orders as well as spot payment on product delivery to encourage further production.