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FAIR 2016

August 18-20 marks the days for FAIR, an event arranged by Nätverket Rättvis Handel (fair trade network). This year, focus is on sustainable consumption. It is a gathering for retailers, importers, consumers and other fair trade advocates. Take the opportunity to do, meet and taste sustainability!

If you happen to be in Gothenburg on Friday, come visit Nidahasa at FAIR. Find us from 12 pm to 2 pm in the remake tent outside Stora Teatern. Check out a few of our products and compete for an upcycled rucksack!

In short: this Friday, 12 pm to 2 pm, outside Stora Teatern. See you there!

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Batticaloa with We Effect

Photograph: What is left of a church after the 2004 Tsunami. Kallady Beach, Batticaloa.

Two months ago I was just about to wrap up a tour of Batticaloa, guided by We Effect. Located on the east coast of Sri Lanka, the town of Batticaloa is still fairly unexploited. The area was severely affected by both the civil war and the 2004 tsunami. These events have affected society, economically and educationally.

We Effect is supporting self-help initiatives in 25 countries across four continents. In Batticaloa, We Effect is working with the non-governmental organization Kaviya. Their mission is to empower people living below the poverty line.

I spent four days in Batticaloa, visiting about a dozen projects. These were all run by groups of women, either as cooperatives or as educational projects. The women we met made clay pots and clay lamps, palmyrah products and shell ornaments. There were seamstresses, trained through Kaviya, who had started their own line of production. Thurkka Cooperative Cociety were especially impressing, offering a range of services to the community. We Effect provided them with a house, where they now produce handicrafts. They offer anything from catering to computer classes, and locals can rent the house as well.

160802_2Parts of Thurkka Cooperative Society in front of their house. To the far left, their current president.

The purpose of my visit was to advice on product development for an extended market. On behalf of Nidahasa, I was also looking for interesting producers to collaborate with. I did find suppliers for a few of our products made in Galle.

I am grateful for the opportunity I got to meet the women involved while traveling Batticaloa. My belief in supporting self-help initiatives has only become stronger after seeing the results of these projects. I hope you followed my journey on Facebook, where you can find photos and stories of the people and places I went to.

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Good things take time

The blog has been quiet for a while, due to a month-long visit to Sri Lanka. It is an interesting journey, this project, and not only geographically speaking. Starting something new has been much like planting a seed and watching it grow. We can’t be too sure of what it will look like, but it grows organically over time.

And we all know what a funny little thing time is. Working on Nidahasa makes you sometimes wonder how time can feel so different. Some days appear to be everlasting when you sit there to get a forever awaited response of a possible customer or future partner. Other days seem to rush by when you meet like-minded people and dream talk to them about how to work together. Every now and then we (like many other entrepreneurs, surely) wish that there were more than twenty-four hours in one day.

It is not about having time – it is about making time.

We are working on developing Nidahasa between juggling our money-making jobs, maintaining social contacts, our private life, sports, hobbies and social duties.

Which is why we constantly have to remind each other not to rush things, to take it easy, to go slow. But it’s hard if you are so excited for an idea like this and want it to grow. We want to be a little part of a movement that makes the world a better place. We want to be the change we (and you) want to see in the world. The secret of it all is, not to let it grow too fast. To let it grow organically. Some days or even weeks there will be no new blog entry, no news to tell. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t working hard on everything we have on our plates. Be patient with us, as we are sometimes not patient with ourselves. We will let you know and inform you about all new developments. And in the meantime we do everything our time allows us to nurture our little plant called Nidahasa and let it grow in a good and healthy way.

Good things take time. And that’s okay.

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Sri Lanka bound

The blog will take a month-long break since I am traveling back to Sri Lanka end of this week. Normally I would attempt to write every week even though I am traveling, but this time I will journey all over the island in search of artistic women to join Nidahasa.

New updates on the blog starting July. Until then, follow my journey in Sri Lanka on our Facebook page!

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World Fair Trade Day 2016

Saturday May 14th was World Fair Trade Day, initiated by World Fair Trade Organization and celebrated world wide in over 70 countries. The celebration is held to acknowledge that trading fair makes a significant contribution to fighting poverty and providing an ethical working environment.

This year the slogan for World Fair Trade Day was ‘Be an Agent for Change’. Across the globe, Fair Trade producers and consumers formed human chains to symbolize the power of Fair Trade as a tool for sustainable development, for people, planet and profit. Check out World Fair Trade Organization’s facebook page for some beautiful photos of producers from around the world, standing in human chains.

You don’t have to be a certified producer to be a change agent; Fair Trade is for anyone who believe in the positive change that comes along with fighting poverty through trade. Every purchase you make is a statement. What kind of world do you support? The choice is yours.

Photo credit: WFTO

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Brewhouse Pop Up Market

Since February, I have been participating in a weekly business management course called “Create Speed” at Brewhouse Incubator – a source for cultural and creative industries. The focus of the course has been to lay the foundation for a sustainable and long-term employment with the artistry in focus. Together with other innovators and entrepreneurs, I have been participating in workshops, lectures, individual coaching and business support.

Today the birds left their nest. We got to try our ideas and present our companies at a pop up market. We were competing with a beautiful day outside, but we still got quite a few visitors and we now have some interesting connections to follow up on. All good fun!

Photo credit: Gary Landström

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The key(s) to a sustainable business

When money alone isn’t the motivation for running a business, how does one calculate the profit or loss of a company?

The bottom line is a term for how businesses traditionally account for their financial performances. The triple bottom line offers a broader perspective, where a company can account for social, ecological and monetary profits or losses. In other words: People, Planet, Profit. We at Nidahasa are using this phrase to describe the triple bottom line and believe it to be the goal of sustainability.

People is mainly a reference to the workers. Child labour and exploitation of a community or a person are strictly rejected. Instead, workers are paid a fair salary for reasonable working hours and within a safe work environment. Businesses are caring for human capital; the resources the workers have in terms of knowledge and personal attributes that can generate economic value for the business.

Planet – or sustainable environmental practices – is a well-known topic in modern business development. Recognizing our limited natural capital, businesses are initiating practices to “Reduse, Reuse and Recycle” by minimizing their environmental impact from their production. Using our natural resources in a considerable and respectful matter is often more profitable in the long run.

Profit is the outcome of healthy sales stream, the economic value after subtracting the cost of all inputs. It is, in this context, not only the internal profit made by a business, but also the real economic impact on its economic environment. Seen this way it is, unlike traditional coprorate accounting definitions of profit, the economic benefit enjoyed by the host society while being financially profitable for the business as well.

And there we have it, folks. Sustainability, not as a trend but rather as three pillars of a modern day business.

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Happy belated Earth Day!

We create the world we live in.

In honor of Earth Day, we want to give a big shoutout to the Good Market. If you followed us up until here you will recognize that this isn’t the first time we mention the Good Market. But we just love the idea of it and want to tell you a bit about it.

The Good Market initially started in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and is based on some ideas that we fully support. It is a platform where producers, service providers and consumers with a focus on social and environmental responsibility can meet. Good Market promotes co-working of enterprises that work on ayurvedic medicine, organic agriculture, ecotourism, garments without guilt, renewable energy, green technology etc. The idea of the market is to enable all people to buy organic which means that everybody who wants to should have the access to healthy, safe, organic and affordable food.

Sophie and I were eager to explore the market whilst our trip to Colombo, and what should I say? We loved it. We ate our way through all the yummy stuff, got our hands decorated with henna and spent some rupees on beautiful arts and crafts.

To participate at the Good Market you have to be able to fulfill some standards e.g. products have to be made by local people from locally available resources. We thought:”That’s what we are doing at Nidahasa.” Luckily the team of Good Market decided to expand, and since end of January there is a Good Market in the Galle Fort, Sri Lanka. Good for us, because our ladies at SareeCycle are based in Galle. We contacted the team of the Good Market to ask if we satisfy their standards and hey yeah, we do. As you may have read on our facebook-page (or here) we have participated several times at the Good Market and our ladies love it.

We love that the Good Market encourages people to create the type of world they want to live in.
We love that we can partner up with all the other vendors with the same ethos.
We love being surrounded by such beautiful ideas and products.
We love sharing our ideas and products with you.
We love creating a part of the world we are living in.
We love working with our ladies.
We love our world.
We love our earth.

Happy Earth Day.

Photo credit: Pradeep Seya

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Millennium development goals

In the process of building Nidahasa, we have mentioned the United Nations Millennium Development Goals a few times. The eight international development goals were supported by all, at the time 189, United Nations member states participating in the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000. The idea was to establish the Millennium Development goals and achieve them by 2015. Last year, on September 25th, they were replaced by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

When we started Nidahasa in late 2014, we were guided by two of the Millennium Development goals; to eradicate extreme poverty and to empower women. They are both still counted for in the Sustainable Development Goals, and Nidahasa is one of the initiatives working hard to overcome these global issues. Lately we have also been inspired by the goal to ensure environmental sustainability, and we are developing methods to ensure this for every step in our production.

Let’s have a look at the goals that have inspired us, shall we?

#1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
One of the targets for eradicating extreme poverty and hunger was to ensure employment and decent work for all. United Nations recognized a specific segregation within employment, where women and young people were least likely to get a full and productive job.

Nidahasa works specifically with women above 18 years of age, to ensure a monthly income for work they do based on skills they already have. We target entrepreneurs over ensuring employment, but the idea behind our methods is the same: to secure a full and productive job.

#3: Promote gender equality and empower women
For the United Nations, this goal was strongly related to girl’s rights to all levels of education, which has been partly achieved in many developing countries. Further, as in goal #1, they argued for an increase of women in the labour force as well as in decision-making positions.

The history of education in Sri Lanka dates back two millennia, ergo women are as educated as men. What Nidahasa does is to empower women by building bridges between their knowledge, the labour force, and the commercial market. Our women are also given responsibility for their own production.

#7: Ensure environmental sustainability
This goal was meant to encourage countries to integrate principles of sustainable development into their policies and programmes. It was meant to reverse the loss of environmental resources, mainly forests. The result has been an increase in afforestation, and a slight decrease in deforestation.

Our current products are made mainly from recycled saree dresses, and we are looking for an eco-friendly alternative to conventional cotton. We are using as much recycled and sustainable material as possible, and we are constantly searching for new collaborations with like-minded producers.

So, what about the new goals? Have a look; we can certainly get behind these as well:

UN-Sustainable-Development-Goals_SDGs_new

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Summary of an eventful year

A year ago, we had not much more than a fundraising foundation, some seed money and big ideas. It would be another six months before we enrolled our first participants to Nidahasa. Meeting Mettha was a blessing, because she was the one introducing us to Pramila and Merlin in October. That introduction initiated what Nidahasa is today.

Together with Geethani, Sandiya and Srimali, we spent the better part of two months developing products that we initially sold at Christmas markets. Today, Pramila and Geethani are attending the Galle Fort Good Market as vendors every Saturday. Our products are also for sale in Board Wise Surf Shop in Unawatuna, and at Trunk in Cinnamon Grand and The Galle Face Hotel in Colombo.

So far, it has been a joyful journey that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Tracy Roberts and Christine Zimmer. Thank you for all the work you have done to bring an idea to life. The future is looking bright as well, and we will hopefully begin next year with some new collaborations that will eventuate in new Nidahasa products.

Bless you all that has participated in some way to build this project; customers, investors, mentors, partnes… and a Happy Sri Lankan New Year to you all!

Photo credit: Johanna Karlsson

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