Sarba Shanti Ayog is an institutionalized Business Development Services platform for fair trade businesses and grassroots producers
Investing in communities. Growing enterprises.
Sarba Shanti Ayog (SSA) – the development organization of Sasha, delivers services focused on technical assistance, financial access and social development. For the last decade, SSA has intensively invested in market development and enterprise building of medium and small enterprises (MSEs) in the informal craft sector in eastern India.
This initiative has helped translate the benefits of fair trade to disadvantaged producers. 50 craft enterprises (community-based groups and artisan-entrepreneurial units) who are part of the Sasha network have benefited from these efforts. Their capabilities have been expanded and they have seen substantial business growth. Members of the groups now benefit from improved skills, regular work, stable incomes, savings, insurance, and access to health and education.
SSA has a small in-house team with 5 full-time program staff. This is enhanced by a pool of professionals, resource agencies and institutes from different parts of the country, including international designers and consultants. The services offered by SSA are available to Sasha's producer groups, potential new craft groups, small enterprises, fair trade organizations and in select cases, development organizations with a focus on livelihoods.
History & Mission
Sarba Shanti Ayog (SSA) was set up in 1978 as a registered society under the West Bengal Societies Registration Act of 1965. SSA focuses on capacity building, technical assistance, design and product development along with the social developmental needs of the Producer groups associated with Sasha and other grassroot social enterprises and Fair Trade organizations. It is a separate legal entity and has its own Governance structure consisting of an Executive Committee, an Executive Director and an in-house team with requisite skill sets, supplemented by a resource pool of professionals and resource agencies & institutes from different parts of the country, including international designers and consultants.
By nurturing innovation, SSA facilitates small producers to adapt their products to contemporary demands. By amplifying Producer capabilities and competitiveness endeavours to improve their profitability and sustainability.
Interventions at various levels, help grassroots Producers to meet the stringent standards and norms of international trade (quality, safety, environment, child labor and gender equity).
Visit the SSA website
1. Development & diversification of products & skills
SSA engages with producer groups innovating, expanding and diversifying product ranges and upgrading and enhancing producer skills. The objective of contemporary product development is to keep the originality and indigenous creativity of the producers intact and build on it. This service is provided by designers from Sasha (SACP), design students from premier design schools and experienced independent designers.
2. Market promotion & market access assistance
Sasha (SACP) provides direct promotion and day-to-day market access services for producers. SSA facilitates broader activities like brand building and promotion, trade fairs and expositions, public events, advocacy and media engagement as required.
3. Scan studies & needs assessment
SSA has experience conducting needs assessments, sectoral mapping, and SCAN studies (business and organizational assessments using baseline surveys and SWOT analyses).
4. Technical Assistance
Workshops, training and specific counseling, focused on improving the operational and organizational efficiency of producer groups is provided for both leadership teams and group members. Topics covered include:
- Production and quality management
- Financial management, costing, pricing (with respect to fair wages and fair pricing concepts)
- Know-how and process improvement (eg. sourcing, quality, certification)
- Systems and procedures, including quality certification
- Organizational development, re-engineering and restructuring
- Working conditions and environmental compliance requirements
5. Micro enterprise financing
This is a credible initiative that is proving both scalable and replicable and its value is appreciated by development agencies and bankers. With their assistance, a sizeable fund was created for lending to the artisan groups to meet business infrastructure and working capital needs. The fund is flexible, friendly and operates on the principles of fair trade partnership, solidarity and long-term trading relationships.
6. Information systems & service
SSA is a resource hub offering producers critical information on quality, exports, market trends, promotional opportunities, support schemes, resource persons, institutes, agencies and supply sources.
SSA was also instrumental in implementing an integrated, computerized, supply chain management system covering various layers of Sasha’s fair trade value chain. It is an exhaustive management information system (MIS) detailing everything from production information to shipping details, sampling and costing data, product catalogs and so much more!
7. Evaluation & monitoring
The SSA team conducts Fair Trade Evaluations of producer groups and Impact Assessments evaluating the effect fair trade has on the groups and their communities. SSA also facilitates external evaluations and audits.
8. Economic security & social empowerment
SSA undertakes financial literacy programs among the artisans' families and their surrounding communities. Financial inclusion is facilitated by group savings and links to life and health insurance schemes. Collaborations with resource agencies in the health and education sectors enable the delivery of local health services and community coaching.
9. Fair trade compliance, quality certifications and GS
With its work implementing the WFTO Guarantee System at Sasha, SSA leads the way developing systems and processes to facilitate fair trade compliance at the producer level. SSA also helps potential members complete entry audits for Fair Trade membership and achieve certification with the Fair Trade Guarantee System (GS).
Additionally, SSA has experience in supporting grassroots organizations to acquire quality certifications like HACCP.
10. Networking & advocacy
SSA plays a leading role in the fair trade community championing issues like gender equality and women's empowerment. Efforts include organizing network meetings, seminars, and discussion forums along with developing position papers and awareness campaigns to promote and advocate fair trade and development sector issues.
These services have increased the capacities of the target groups, improving their infrastructure, skills and operational efficiency. Financial barriers have been minimized and timely access to relevant information provided.
Enterprises serviced by Sasha and SSA follow fair business practices and are committed to producing sustainable, authentic and well-designed craft and food items. The knowledge inputs received by these grassroots businesses have resulted in the development of new, better quality products, fewer product failures and improved productivity. They are sensitive to issues of resource usage, energy consumption and pollution control, while working to improve working conditions and the welfare of their people.
This unique, participative model has resulted in a strong network of producer associations that self-manage and constantly strive for excellence in servicing the customer and benefiting the community. Thus, Sasha and SSA through their market-led business and social development services strive to create more and more sustainable fair trade businesses at the base of the pyramid.
We're here to help your organization too
Do these services sound like they could benefit your organization? We'd love to see how we can assist you to develop your community or enterprise.
Need a WFTO peer review? We can provide someone to do a peer review of your organization to maintain your Fair Trade Guaranteed status.
Need an implementation partner? Do you work in the development sector and need an implementation partner in India? Leverage SSA's on-the-ground expertise to bring your project to life.