Your Orders Change Lives: How Our Partners Persevered Through COVID-19

June 8, 2022
"We're all in this together." --Rain Morgan, Turqle Trading, South Africa

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected low-income countries around the world and put the livelihoods of millions of small-scale artisans and farmers at risk.

Though they're starting to emerge from the worst of the pandemic, every single one of our 45 global fair trade partners told us the same thing. What they need most is more orders. With more orders, they're able to provide artisans with steady and reliable work as well as expand their potential craft markets, build emergency funds, and restart their social programs, many of which support the artisans' families.

How COVID Affected our Partners

"Our craftsmen are like family to us... Seeing them off was the hardest thing." --Syed Fahad Ali, Dominion Traders, Pakistan

At the initial height of the pandemic, artisans were forced to leave their handcrafting jobs to find other work, and multiple family workshops closed due to a lack of orders. Whether it was taking up farming, returning to their villages, or pulling rickshaws, these skilled artisans had to seek out new jobs to support themselves and their families in the short term while their handcrafting income significantly declined.

Our partners at Noah's Ark adopted new workplace safety guidelines during COVID-19.


"In the midst of social distancing, many of us are getting closer." --Sujata Goswami, Sasha Association for Craft Producers, India

COVID-19 forced all of us to adopt new working practices, and our partners were no exception. Many of them required office staff to work from home, sent raw materials home with artisans so they could also work safely from home, and hosted meetings and school via Zoom. Several also turned to online marketing and sales for the first time to try and obtain orders for the artisans, expanding their potential markets both locally and internationally.

Skilled artisans rely on orders for even more than steady employment and income. The financial struggles that came with the pandemic caused many of our partner organizations to deplete their emergency funds. Without enough orders, they had pause or completely stop social programs including health care, and education for artisans and children. They're eager to get these programs running again as soon as they have the resources to start them and steady orders to maintain them.

Our partners at Tara Projects in India preparing food kits to distribute to artisans without work.


"These crises were a great lesson in our lives. They didn't change us much, but did change our priorities in life. It showed us how to build survival strategies on how to deal with this situation." --Suzan Sahori, BFTA, West Bank

In order to prevent falling into a similar situation in the future, many partners are also changing the way their organizations operate, including creating deeper emergency funds to support artisans when orders are scarce.

"We are happy that we all are working. With our resilience and hope we survived." --Moon Sharma, Tara Projects, India

Despite the pandemic, our partners remain optimistic and continue to move forward--creating beautiful handcrafts, contingency plans, and a brighter future for global artisans and farmers and their communities.

"We have become more resilient: if we can beat this, we can beat anything!" --Claudia Castellanos, Black Mamba, eSwatini

How you can help

"SERRV is helping us keep supporting our people." --Basma Barham, Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society, West Bank

With your support, SERRV continued sending orders to our partners over the past two years. When many other companies canceled outstanding orders without pay or stopped sending new orders, we worked diligently to maintain order levels. Recently, SERRV sent even larger orders, creating more reliable and sufficient employment through this challenging time for our fair trade artisan partners.

Thanks to your orders, we were able to help provide our partners in the West Bank with fair & vital income.


"We are so grateful to our partners for continuously supporting the producers. The artisans have expressed their gratitude that our partners in Fair Trade kept the solidarity." --Roenna Alindogan-Antonio, Saffy Inc., Philippines

Despite SERRV's ongoing support, our partners are still in need of more orders to provide steady work to small-scale artisans and farmers and social programs in their communities around the world.

How can you help? Shop at SERRV! By choosing fair trade for your home or giving a one-of-a-kind handmade gift, you're providing a global artisan or farmer with fair and vital wages. Every purchase makes a difference, and we offer an exciting array of high-quality artisan-made products at great prices.

SERRV International is also a nonprofit organization, so you can also make a donation! Every donation helps-- whether by subsidizing our skyrocketing freight costs, or by ensuring we can help artisans fund purchases of raw materials to create their beautiful handcrafts. Every gift makes a difference.

Thank you for supporting fair trade and small-scale artisans and farmers around the world.

Tags:   Artisan Stories  

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