By Alex Berryman
Imagine a world in which each and every person in a global supply chain is treated and paid fairly. While this is not yet a reality, the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) is here to make a change. The WFTO is a network of businesses that is committed to the 10 Principles of Fair Trade, advocating for a more fair and healthy supply chain. In celebration of World Fair Trade Day, we will explore how Purnaa is bringing the 10 Principles of Fair Trade into a new space: dye sublimated caps, becoming one of the very few Fair Trade caps on the market.
Principle One: Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
Dignified employment has the ability to change the situation of an individual, family, and whole community. Since 2013, Purnaa's mission has been to empower fresh starts and fulfilled lives through excellent jobs. With the goal to employ 1,000 people by 2037, Purnaa sought ways to create new jobs - the answer came in the form of a cap.
Baseball caps are a high labor product - depending on the cap, it can take up to 13 steps and a large team just to complete one cap. While this deters many other manufacturers, Purnaa saw the potential for employment and a new specialization. Combined with dye sublimation printing (which allows for custom printed material) a customer can receive their own custom printed cap, and Purnaa can grow its social impact - a true win-win.
Principle Two: Transparency and Accountability
As a member of the WFTO, Purnaa receives an audit every 2 years to ensure we are being held accountable to these principles. Any good business relies on the chain of accountability (aka value chain ) - our values, our customers, and the WFTO hold us accountable, and we hold our suppliers accountable, The WFTO and our customers hold us accountable, we ask for transparency and accountability with our material suppliers in order to understand our wider impact.
Since our caps are made from a set amount of materials, with very little variation, we are able to build relationships with certain suppliers and pass that information onto the customer.
Principle Three: Fair Trading Practices
Never has 'treat others how you want to be treated' been more true. Upholding our core values of integrity, we see each vendor or brand as a partner. For that reason, we implement fair trading practices such as 50%/50% payment terms with both brands and suppliers. We exemplify fairness and mutual respect through fair pricing and timely payment.
Principle Four: Fair Payment
Much like Principle Three, Fair Payment is based on mutual respect and integrity.
Purnaa implements fair prices with our brands and vendors, Fair Wages with staff, and even pays above the living wage in Nepal. By increasing employment, Purnaa cap customers can be a part of the growth of fair wages in Nepal.
Read more on what the living wage is in Nepal and how Purnaa exceeds expectations.
Principle Five: Ensuring No Child Labour and Forced Labour
As a member of the Freedom Business Alliance, Purnaa actively advocates against forced labor and also child labor in the industry. We ensure all staff receives an adequate wage and has access to all rights afforded to them by the law.
Principle Six: Commitment to Non-Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Freedom of Association
At Purnaa we have a collective bargaining committee, elected by staff, which speaks on behalf of employees to ownership about salaries and benefits as well as initiates proposals that consider the concerns of employees. For example, the CBD recently held a meeting with owners to discuss how to best handle payment during lock-down. They decided to give a full month's salary right at the beginning and then a modified amount if the lockdown continued longer than a month.
Principle Seven: Ensuring Good Working Conditions
Another one of our 5 Core Values is Beauty. We make sure our facility is not only clean but also a pleasant and beautiful place to work. Often you will see drawings made by Purnaa staff adorning the walls, with messages of love and hope.
With big, bright windows and clean environments, it is important for all Purnaa staff to enjoy where they work.
Principle Eight: Providing Capacity Building
Knowing we are only as good as our staff, we are constantly building capacity and training. Three years ago, we hired Suzanne Allibone, a master sewing trainer, who works with our sampling and sewing teams to increase their capabilities.
As we begin to specialize in cap manufacturing, we have trained staff in new skills and sewing techniques. These skills are highly valuable on the wider market and increase Purnaa's staff employability when they leave Purnaa.
Principle Nine: Promoting Fair Trade
On a large scale, Purnaa promotes Fair Trade practices by continually striving to provide dignified employment opportunities in Nepal. We actively participate in the conversation about Fair Trade. Just last month, Purnaa also celebrated Fashion Revolution. The cap team spoke on Fashion Revolution's Instagram Stories about how they enjoy working together, at Purnaa, creating Fair Trade caps for our customers.
Principle Ten: Respect for the Environment
Fair Trade is about advocating for each level of the supply chain, and we recognize that that first link is the environment from which we get our resources. Historically, Purnaa has reduced our environmental footprint by having a rigorous recycling program and partnering with Doko Recyclers.
All Purnaa caps are printed using dye-sublimation, a closed-loop, waterless printing process - thereby ensuring toxic chemicals stay out of Nepali waterways.
Purnaa's dedication to the 10 Principles of fair trade goes beyond the day-to-day but is engrained in each business decision we make - big or small. Be a part of the Fair Trade movement and become a cap manufacturing partner - all you need is a design idea and we can do the rest.