Artisan Well

Artisan Well


Profile of CONTIGO´s partner Artisan Well

Kolkata to Göttingen (Source: Google Earth)


Items made of cow leather


Kolkata, in the state of West Bengal, India – distance to Europe: 7,300km

Founded in 2005


  • 2005: Foundation of Artisan Well, as a representative of 15 manufacturer groups with 200 members from West Bengal. Goals: product development, improved quality standards, better social standards for all members, joint marketing and distribution of their products
  • 2008: Artisan Well specialises in the production of leather goods, relocating of the workshop premises in the outskirts of Kolkata. Artisan Well takes over the former leather production cooperative Utkal Leather Crafts
  • 2013: Artisan Well works with 7 producer groups for leather indoor. Only 4 out of formerly 13 external producer groups can be supplied with orders
  • 2015: Hiring of an Indian lady as freelance designer in order to develop new leather ranges
  • 2015: Support of a training center for women (initiated by NGO Tamas Society) with 18 women, Artisan Well pays charges for rent, electricity, trainer wage. Aim: education of women from rural areas in the leather processing
  • From 2015 on: Searching a plot of land in the suburban area of Kolkata for a bigger production site
  • 2016: Artisan Well becomes member of the World Fairtrade Organisation (WFTO)
  • 2017: The central workshop hosts 12 producer groups for leather production. The cooperation with the NGO Tamas Society and the trainings for women end for the time being
  • 2018: Start of building a bigger production unit south of Kolkata in the rural area off Baruipur

Structure of the marketing organisation Artisan Well (status of 2017):

The organisation consists of 31 producer groups:

  • External groups / decentralised workshops: jute (1), horn items (1), wood crafts (1), shanti leather (1), wallets and small items made of cow leather (15)
  • Internal groups / at the central workshop: leather, production of bags (12)

Organisation (stable since 2005):

  • Members meet once a year
  • During annual meeting they elect a board comprised of eight members for the main handicraft groups (see above)
  • Board meetings quarterly

Cooperation with CONTIGO since 2005

Artisan Well7

Structure of the company

Number of employees:

  • Internal employees:
    • 5 employees for administration, marketing, exports
    • 1 production manager for planning of the whole process, calculation
    • 1 assistant of production manager
    • 2 foremen for patterns, product development
    • 10 producer groups with each 3-6 people (fluctuating)
    • 6 women for quality control
    • 7 skilled employees for hand bag production
  • 19 External groups – providing work for 60 families
    • jute products
    • horn items
    • wood crafts
    • shanti leather
    • wallets and accessories made of cowhide leather
  • Gender commitee, consists of three female employees and two men ( production manager and CEO), representing the interest of women and settle quarrels
  • External, freelance product designer

Work environment:

Production premises with ground floor and three storeys:

  • Three working rooms and a small side room (for storage purposes) on each floor
  • 3-4 persons work in each room
  • All floors are equipped with fire extinguishers and bathroom facility
  • All working rooms are equipped with tables and chairs (till 2014 employees have been working on the floor)
  • First floor: workplaces of sample makers and office of production manager
  • Second floor: quality control
  • Attic storey: recreation room for employees

The administration office, accounting office, showroom and logistics are in a seperate office appartment in 30 minutes (by car) distance.

Organisation of workforce:

  • Work organisation internal groups (at the central workshop):
    • Finalising of leather accessories, which are prepared by external groups. Production of leather bags
    • 12 in-house producer groups with 3-6 employees each: team consists of un-skilled, semi-skilled and skilled (or highly skilled) artisans
    • Team leader coordinates the members, also keeps an account about the work performance, piece rate (which is agreed) and payment (against signature)
    • The sample makers Nur and Chatter, and the production manager Sajal, are responsible for:
      • Coordination of all processes
      • Pattern making and product development
      • Calculation of piece rates for internal and external groups (they calculate the working time of the single production steps and estimate the weekly quantity)
  • Work organisation external groups (decentralised workshops):
    • Groups for small leather items do not work for Artisan Well exclusively (Artisan Well can not offer a year-round employment due to lack of orders)
    • For every order the groups receive prepared packages of cut leather and other materials from Artisan Well
    • Finished orders are delivered on Fridays, pay-out is on Saturday
    • Quality control after delivery

2014_Artisan Well2 Kopie


  • Exports (100%) to Germany, Austria, Finland


  • To support local craftsmen by marketing their products
  • To offer year-round employment for all members
  • To develop new products and quality standards (as a basis for more success)
  • To train and further develop craft-making skills of producers
  • To continuously improve the living standards and social benefits of the workers

Special features

Quote from Artisan Well: “We believe that poor artisans deserve appreciation of their workmanship and dignity as a human beings.”

Why does CONTIGO work with Artisan Well: Longterm and trustful cooperation,  excels in high quality commitment and well accepted ranges, excellent and dedicated staff with long experience.



Fairtrade classification

FTA = Fairtrade Approved


Fairtrade aspects

Artisan Well14

Artisan Well complies with the following Fairtrade Principles:

No child labour

No discrimination

No discrimination due to gender, disability, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political orientation, or infection with HIV

Fair wages

  • Minimum wage in the state of West Bengal: (INR = Indian rupee) for tannery and leather industry
    • un-skilled : INR 7,776/ month
    • semi-skilled: INR 8,553/ month
    • skilled: INR 9,409/ month
  • Wages at Artisan Well:
    • Permanent staff: wages depend on competence and performance
    • Quality control: INR 6,500- 8,000 / month
      (comment: in other companies women working in quality control are not permanent staff, they earn lower daily wages and do not receive social benefits. At Artisan Well women from quality control receive a fixed salary, bonus payments and social benefits – see below)
    • Production staff (semi skilled and skilled) with non piece rate tasks, as cutting, material preparation etc. : INR 9,500 – 10,500 /month
    • Specialists (highly skilled), sample maker: INR 11,500-14,500 /month
    • Monthly payment in cash or cheque
  • Production workers at the internal / central workshop receive piece rate wages
    • Income varies due to order situation and attendance time of workers
    • Team leader receives the wages and forwards them to the group members in cash (at the 5th of every month), against signature
    • Additional benefit: free breakfast and lunch
    • In times of less work, group members receive a basic income (INR 6,000/month), which is compensated against later work
  • Production workers at the different decentralised workshops receive piece rate wage
    • Weekly payment after delivery of order
  • Annual wage increases at least to the amount of the inflation rate
  • Higher wages in case of working on Sunday or bank holidays
  • Extra payments on occasion of important holidays (Muslims: End of Ramadan. Hindus: Durga Puja) for garments and family visits in the villages (approx. 20% of the monthly salary)
  • Permanent staff and group leaders receive one monthly salary as a bonus payment (if the annual profit allows to do so): it is a voluntarily bonus by Artisan Well, no legal claim)

Humane working conditions

Artisan Well12

Working hours:

  • Permanent staff: 10:00am – 6:30pm
  • Producer groups (internal): 9:30 am-6:30 pm
  • 2 tea- and lunchbreaks/day
  • 6 days/week

Social benefits:

Employees with fixed salaries and internal producer groups receive:

  • Payment of contributions to health insurance ESI (=Employee State Insurance), employer pays 4,75% and employee 1,75% of monthly gross wage
  • Payment of contributions to pension scheme PF (=Employees´ Provident Fund), employer and employee pay each 12% of monthly gross wage
  • Additional voluntary contribution: Life insurance for all in-house employees (payout after 15 years as a lump sum)
  • Paid holidays (only for employees with a fix salary):
    • 10 days for personal needs (recreation, bereavement, weddings etc.).
    • 17 -19 paid bank holidays (official and religious holidays)
    • Non taken holidays will be compensated in cash at the end of the financial year
    • Continued payment of wage in case of sickness or accidents (12 days)
  • In case of need (e.g. for family affairs): interest-free loans (or advance payments) are available, individual reimbursable plan
  • Artisan Well provides free snacks for tea breaks, group leaders pay for lunch

Educational opportunities:

  • Vocational training of young men is provided throughout the year (training and preparation of professional life)
  • Women from the quality control department are taught how to do easy work steps in the leather production


Occupationl safety:

  • Fire licence, regular external checks
  • In planning: emergency exits via staircases to the outside


  • Payroll is available
  • SAR (Self Assessment Report) was duly submitted to CONTIGO



  • Personal visits in Kolkata (2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Feedback interview during several visits in Germany
  • Member of:
    • World Fair Trade Organisation WFTO (Guaranteed Member) – since 2015

Country information

See Encyclopaedia Britannica: India



Visit in Kolkata (2017 & 2018) 


Visit in Kolkata (2014)

2014_Artisan Well7 Kopie 2014_Artisan Well1 Kopie 2014_Artisan Well6 Kopie


2014_Artisan Well4 Kopie 2014_Artisan Well3 Kopie

Visit in  Kolkata (2013)

Visit in Kolkata (2011)

 Artisan Well13 Artisan Well19 Artisan Well18  Artisan Well15  Artisan Well16

First visit in Kolkata (2008)

   Artisan Well8  Artisan Well9  Artisan Well3  Artisan Well10  Artisan Well11  Artisan Well1

Author: Janina Lange on 20. April 2019

Last articles