SAIDPUR ENTERPRISES

Saidpur Enterprises is a Fair Trade group that started originally to support refugees in Bangladesh. Saidpur Enterprises is formed of two sub groups - Action Bag and Eastern Screen Printers. Action Bag makes unique jute bags and accessories. Eastern Screen Printers are a hand screen printing group who use safe eco-friendly pigment dyes. Today Action Bag and Eastern Screen Printers work with over 153 women in Northern Bangladesh.

HISTORY

During Bangladesh's war of independence with Pakistan in the 1970s, over a million refugees were displaced and ended up in refugee camps in Saidpur.

The Mennonite Central Committee, a non-profit that was distributing food and relief in the camps, recognised the need to create jobs in the area. They trained 150 women in sewing silk screening and sewing jute bags and screen printing. In 1973, Action Bag was initiated, overseeing small cottage style industries with the long term goal of them becoming independent enterprises.

IMPACT

Using Jute, one of Bangladesh's most abundant natural resources, Action Bag has transformed the lives of hundreds of former refugees. People Tree has worked with Action Bag since 1993 and is now one of their biggest customers. Action Bag employs 153 people. People Tree's regular orders have helped them to develop a benefit scheme where yearly profits are shared amongst producers, loans are available at low interest rates, and legal aid and medical cover are available.

JOSHNA'S STORY

Joshna began working for Action Bag 10 years ago when she was abandoned by her husband. When asked how Fair Trade makes a difference to her, she said:

I could earn only 50% of what I earn at Action Bag and I would have to get a job as a housemaid. There is no other work in this area. I am treated with great respect and work at home which suits me.

Using her share of Action Bag's yearly profits, she rebuilt the roof on her house, which cost the equivalent of five months salary. She has also been able to put her nieces through school.