Who We Are

We are a WFTO registered fair trade enterprise based in Saidpur, a city in the Northern part of Bangladesh. We sell natural products that improve lives!

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Our Mission

PROVIDING FAIR JOBS TO WOMEN

We sell several handmade fair trade products, our best sellers are: jute shopping bags, jute-cotton handbags and screen printed jute paper gift cards. Our long term mission is to provide fair employment opportunities and business training for poor destitute rural women in Saidpur, particularly for those who are heads of households and/or are widows.

EMPOWERING ARTISANS

We are comprised of two sister organisations – Action Bag and East Screen Printers. Over the past three decades we have employed and supported over 1500 artisans in Saidpur, mostly women. We support our artisans in two ways: by paying them fairly and on time; and by building their capacities through different workshops and on the job training.

TRANSFORMING AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY

We are a vital part of the community in Saidpur as we empower the women in the area by providing them a chance to gain respect and to become self-sufficient. We believe that if the women are empowered, the community as a whole will be transformed and enjoy improved livelihoods. More income means better education, better food and peace in the households.

OUR VALUES

We believe that to break the cycle of poverty we need to provide those in need with sustainable livelihoods. As a member of the WFTO (the World Fair Trade Organization) and ECOTA (the national platform for fair trade in Bangladesh), we believe that through fair trade we can help achieve this goal.


FOCUSING ON EDUCATION

We also support the children in our community by providing uniforms, school supplies and bags each year to over 400 local students whose parents cannot afford to pay for such items. Without these items the children would not be able to attend school at all.

A DEMOCRATIC STRUCTURE

We also provide our artisans the chance to co-own and co-run the enterprise through the elected Producer Management Committee. We believe that in doing so we are empowering and dignifying artisans and other women in the community.

OUR STORY

Improving lives since 1977


  • 1971 - A Refugee Crisis

    Tens of thousands of Bihari refugees flee to Saidpur following the war of independence from Pakistan. This influx of people leads to severe unemployment and food shortages in the area.

  • 1977 - Action Bag

    Action Bag – our first organizations – is formed by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in an attempt to provide employment for poor head-of-household Bihari women and to train them to market and produce fair trade jute bags.

  • 1979 - 1982 - Creating Entrepreneurs

    Between 1979 – 1982, over 500 artisans who received a training with Action Bag are assisted in setting up their own business, boosting the local economy and creating more income for the community.

OUR ORGANIZATION


Board of trustees


Saidpur Enterprises is governed by a Board of Trustees who meet four times a year to discuss various issues, such as future policy and business strategy. For day to day decisions, Saidpur Enterprises is run by a General Manager who is held responsible by the Board of Trustees and the Producer Management Committee.

The Artisans are in Control


The Producer Management Committee meets once a month and helps decide most of the enterprises’ business and policy decisions. Members of the Producer Management Committee are elected from amongst the producers, by the producers, to represent themselves.