Tara Projects aims towards the empowerment of grassroots artisans by providing support for production and marketing on fair trade principles; fulfilling community development needs by imparting human rights, dignity and general awareness.
To reach this aim Tara has business objectives:
- to ensure sustainable activities and trade relationships
- to emphasise professionalism
- to strengthen fair trade production and markets
- to focus on quality and innovation of the product range
- to enter into the mainstream market.
And social objectives:
- to fight exploitation and poverty at grassroots level
- to ensure gender equity
- to promote education of children
- to strengthen fair trade concepts through advocacy and awareness campaigns.
“Poverty is not only about shortage of money, it is about: rights and relationships; about how people are treated; and about how they regard themselves; about powerlessness, exclusion and loss of dignity. Yet the lack of an adequate income is at its heart…” Mahatma Gandhi.
Tara has 31 regular producer groups and a further 18 called “experimental groups”. Membership of these groups ranges in size from small groups up to around 100 members. The biggest of which is the Agra stone carving group. Many have a co-operative structure. Approximately 1,000 artisans in total are involved with Tara Projects.
Producers vary in terms of poverty levels " some of the longer established group members have a greatly improved standard of living. Of note are the women from the Indira Camp, a squatter settlement close to the Tara warehouse, who now have regular work on the premises assembling jewellery, and enjoy a regular income for the first time.
Tara’s work has a strong gender focus, largely through role modelling by senior Tara staff members, but also through awareness raising and new opportunities for some of the most conservative groups which have led to change. Because of the nature of the crafts produced, many of the groups are male, or mostly male.
A large number of benefits come with membership of Tara groups. They include:
- improved working conditions
- training in many forms including skills enhancement, fair trade compliance, gender awareness and assistance, and guidance in group functioning
- access to adult education
- schools for children of producers who would otherwise not be allowed to attend school - in particular girls and working children - there are around 1,100 children benefiting in this way
- health initiatives - including health camps, arranging insurance and AIDS awareness raising
- credit and savings schemes - self-help groups are formed for this purpose and all producers now have a savings card and compulsory savings
- campaigns against child labour and advocacy for fair trade.