There are many small to medium size textile factories with a workforce of 50 – 150 workers, which aim to produce Fairtrade textiles, but struggle to achieve the standards necessary to become Fairtrade compliant. At the other end of the supply chain, Fairtrade businesses are disadvantaged by limited buying power compared to larger competitors. Smaller factories and Fairtrade businesses are ideal partners but investment is needed to help these factories comply to Fairtrade standards.

TRAID funded the Fairtrade Foundation to build the capacity of small producers in India to comply with, and maintain, the Fairtrade Mark. The project aimed to bring improved factories together with Fairtrade businesses to source quality products in desired volumes and create mutually beneficial partnerships.

The project worked with two factories employing 253 garment workers which had failed to secure Fairtrade certification. Factory working conditions and health and safety standards were assessed and it was found that each fell far short of the minimum standards required.

Factory owners and managers were supported to address and remedy concerns by building their capacity to recognise minimum standards required, and then improve them. This has included marking fire exits, improving safety equipment, implementing waste management systems and allowing trade unions. The next stage for these factories will be a mock audit using the Ethical Trading Initiatives base codes for working and health and safety conditions.

The ability to produce under the Fairtrade mark will help small factories to increase their prices, improve the reputations and attract Fairtrade businesses which require lower volumes that big factories are prepared to supply.