WFTO Asia recently conducted six successful Guarantee System workshops. WFTO Asia Executive Director Christine Gent and Sustainability Coordinator Elise Hawley toured in India, from 24 February to 7 March, to give GS workshops. Two GS workshops were also held in Bangladesh on 9 and 12March.
A total of 49 WFTO members (33 in India and 16 in Bangladesh) attended the workshops. Workshop topics ranged from from the application process for potential members to focused workshops on implementing an IMS and understanding the mandatory points in the SAR for existing members.
In the Asia region, India and then Bangladesh have the most WFTO members. Both are areas in which the regional office foresees massive potential to grow in close collaboration with the local networks.
One of the best aspects of these workshops is to gather the local WFTO members in one room – networking together and exchanging ideas is invaluable and strengthens the Fair Trade community.
One networking success story is from WFTO member JW Productions and applicant Mandala who met for the first time in Bangalore. After learning about their similar organizational structures they exchanged visits and plan to later exchange peer visits for the GS.
Outside of the workshops we travelled and met with eight organizations for one on one SAR support. Answering questions and providing clarification in person on the SAR ensures understanding of the GS and confidence in writing the report. Plus, it has helped us understand even better the areas members need support on. We expect over 5 organizations to submit a SAR or profile for their membership within the next few weeks.
Returning to the office in Chiang Mai a month later, we are incredibly enthused by the trip and look forward to following up with our members and new contacts. We look forward to building more partnerships and developing projects with our members. These trips would not have been possible without the gracious hosts including The Ants, FTFI, Tara Projects, EMA, Creative Handicrafts, ECOTA, BracAarong, Prokritee, and Corr the Jute Works.
By Elise Hawley
WFTO Asia Sustainability Coordinator