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A Year of Progress: Social and Environmental Impact at Purnaa’s Fair Trade Factory in Nepal

Updated: Jul 8

Our Impact report is out! Follow Purnaa’s environmental impact and social impact journey, learn about the progress we've made and our ambitious goals for the coming year as a leading Fair Trade factory in Nepal.



To say this year was a busy one year for Purnaa would be an understatement. We moved into a new purpose-built, Purnaa-owned Fair Trade factory here in Nepal, allowing us to continue to grow and offer more high-quality jobs. We welcomed, trained, and hired multiple new teams, expanding to 231 employees! The team bid farewell to Purnaa’s founder, Corban Bryant, who moved back to the US, and celebrated Purnaa’s Production Director, Richard Faber’s, promotion to CEO. And, using a grant from the USAID Trade and Competitiveness Program, we launched our embroidery services, further enhancing our offerings to customers.


With a focus on Fair Trade practices, the well-being of our staff, and the environment around us, we reflect on the significant strides we've made, celebrate our achievements, and identify areas where we can continue to grow our impact. Let's dive into the highlights of this year's report and understand how Purnaa is making a difference in Nepal.


Our Social Impact

This year, we provided life-skills and job skills training to 48 individuals, equipping them with the tools needed for a better future. A total of 91% of our staff are female, many of whom come from marginalized backgrounds. 

Infographics depicting social impact

Physical & Emotional Health

Over time, we see significant improvements in family members’ health, with steady jobs and health insurance boosting caregivers' confidence in their children's and parents' well-being. Hope for the future also increases with employment at Purnaa. Emotional health scores trend upward the longer employees stay with the company, reflecting a growing sense of optimism and well-being. 


Ownership of Goods

We track increases in ownership of goods to gauge quality of life improvements at home. The biggest increase over a range of amenities for this year has been in scooters or motorbikes. Purnaa’s adult learning program, which helps staff get driver’s licenses, significantly contributed to this rise.


Employee Benefits

We continued to offer our standard benefits, including living wages for all our employees, as defined by the World Fair Trade Organization. Due to the move to a new site further outside the city, we now offer free transport for all employees to get to and from work.

Through our Empowerment Fund, we provide school and daycare scholarships for the children of staff, salary assistance during initial training, and scholarships for remedial, general education, and personal development training. Money from our Empowerment Fund also supports the K2K project, which helps repatriate survivors of trafficking from India to Nepal and connects returnees to transitional housing and social services.


Our Environmental Impact in Nepal

Environmental impact and social impact are closely intertwined in Nepal. Our mission to employ marginalized people is meaningless if we harm the environment through our jobs. It's also part of our responsibility as a WFTO Fair Trade member. That's why we strive to produce goods with minimal environmental impact, reducing usage and emissions wherever possible.


As we've expanded our team and facilities, we've increased our production capacity, allowing us to offer more products and services. This year, we produced over 50,000 more products compared to last year, increasing the number of sewing and hand-powered knitting machines and our usage of recycled fabrics. Despite this growth, we've reduced electricity and water usage per employee and only increased overall factory energy consumption by 174 KWH compared to last year. Our energy-efficient sewing and sublimation machines, hand-powered knitting machines, and LED lighting help us achieve this efficiency. Additionally, 0% of our fabric waste goes to landfill, as we recycle every scrap by partnering with a local supplier who turns them into cushions. Next year we hope to reduce our environmental impact even further.


Areas of Improvement

While we celebrate our successes, we also recognize areas where we can improve. Tracking and reporting our use of sustainable packaging materials needs to be more precise, as some of our customers still use traditional plastic packaging. Additionally, we aim to start reporting our CO2 emissions from shipping, which currently represents a significant part of our environmental impact. Improving income satisfaction among our staff is another key focus, as we strive to enhance their economic well-being and overall job satisfaction.


Economic Health, Fair Trade, Living Wage

We see that the economic situation of our employees declined over the past few years, partly due to COVID-19, down days, and the time taken to learn new skills. Growth in economic situations now appears stagnant. In July, we will review our compensation and living wage targets to increase wages and return to growth in economic health. As we have grown quickly from 2021 to 2024, the percentage of workers from marginalized backgrounds fell from 54% to 37%. However, many new hires came from desperate financial situations. Baseline responses for overall economic situations show that they came from the most challenging financial situations of any previous year’s batches of hires.


What's Next?

Looking ahead, our goals for 2024 are ambitious and exciting. We plan to complete the move into our new factory, create over 50 new jobs, and continue focusing on hiring individuals from marginalized backgrounds. Enhancing our embroidery services and expanding our customer base, especially for our new knitting production unit, are also top priorities.

We invite our partners and supporters to help us achieve these goals by connecting us with like-minded brands and ordering ethically-made products from Purnaa.



 

Manufacturing with Purnaa in Nepal

Purnaa is a full-service sewing and knitting fair-trade, social enterprise manufacturing company in Nepal with a mission to create jobs that empower marginalized people to fresh starts and fulfilled lives. We specialize in stuffed animals, toys, dolls and fully custom contract sewing and knitting manufacturing.


Reach out today to speak to a sales rep and start your ethical production journey sales@purnaa.com

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To learn more about how our manufacturing process works, check out our other posts:

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