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U-Chus Fair Trade: About the Makers

Pictured: An artisan in Bangladesh weaving a U-Chus basket.

U-Chus is a small, Australian-owned business that partners with WFTO (World Fair Trade Organisation) certified Fair Trade producers, Corr the Jute Works in Bangladesh.
U-Chus takes accountability seriously, and can track their production chain directly back to each individual worker. All producers are paid a living wage, and U-Chus is a member of the Fair Traders of Australia to ensure worker rights are maintained. U-Chus focuses on giving disadvantaged people in rural areas access to an income; their workforce is made up mostly of women, people with a disability, and indigenous people.

Supplier Snapshot

Artisans' Location: Bangladesh

Demographics: Majority women in rural areas with various religious backgrounds

Materials: Locally-sourced jute, seagrass (hogla) and palm leaves

Techniques: Hand-weaving

Certifications and memberships: WFTO (World Fair Trade Organisation) and Fair Traders of Australia

Values: Ethical trading, empowering women and disavantaged producers, and sustainability

Corr the Jute Works

 Pictured: A group of women artisans in Bangladesh wearing colourful saris weave strands of jute.

Corr the Jute Works is a Fair Trade organisation that works with artisans in Bangladesh who hand-weave home decor, tableware and bags using locally-sourced jute. The organisation adheres to the 10 Principles of Fair Trade, including paying artisans a fair wage for their work and ensuring safe work conditions. In 2016, artisans received 16 taka per hour, which is considered a fair wage.

The mobile nature of producing jute handicrafts allows women to work from home in between other household activities and looking after children. The additional funds they earn enable them to supplement their marginal family income and contribute to living expenses and their children's education.

Meet the Makers

 Pictured: Two women artisans in Bangladesh wearing pink saris weave together jute baskets.

"My dream has become a reality. My sorrows are gone and my hopes have been answered. Many of us are poor, but no one can blame us for this. Working and earning, we can change our lives."

- Haricha Begum, an artisan at Corr the Jute Works (via Asia News)
Haricha Begum is an artisan who has worked with Corr the Jute Works for over ten years. In an interview, she speaks about how earning an income independently of their husbands has empowered her and other women in the community.
"Before joining the group we needed to ask our husbands for approval before going anywhere. Now we don't have to depend on them because we have the money, we can go anywhere and we can spend the money as we want. We are happy because we take [sic] our own decisions now," Haricha says.
When Haricha didn't have much money, she couldn't afford to send her eldest son to school beyond eighth grade. Her son had no choice but to start working so the family could afford living expenses. However Haricha sees a brighter future for her younger son and daughter due to the money she now earns producing jute handicrafts. She does not want to involve her younger children in work before the completion of their education. Both now in Grade Seven, they go to school regularly and are serious about their studies.

Pictured: A woman artisan in Bangladesh weaves a basket.

Margaret Peris, aged 57, is another artisan at Corr the Jute Works. She was one of the first people to start working with the organisation, and talks about how it has benefited her life.

"Without CJW (Corr the Jute Works), it would have been impossible for me to become an active and self-sufficient member of society."

- Margaret Peris, Jute Bag Producer from the village of Daripara (Gazipur district), Bangladesh (via Asia News)

Support these artisans by purchasing U-Chus homewares and gifts here.