Gautam Handicrafts

Founder Hari Gautam

 

Profile of CONTIGO´s partner Gautam Handicrafts

Supply chain

Trading Partner: Gautam Handicrafts, microenterprise
Function: Producer
Structure: Own production plant, affiliated producers
Tradeway: Direct import CONTIGO

Products

Silver jewellery

Location

Kathmandu to Goettingen (Source: Google Earth)

Kathmandu to Göttingen (Source: Google Earth)

Kathmandu, Nepal – distance to Europe: 6,700km

Founded in 1998

History

  • 1998: Hari Gautam becomes self-employed with a small business for Nepalese handicrafts in order to support his village
  • 2000-2005: Sales of products to local customers and on trekking tours (Hari Gautam works as hiking guide)
  • 2005: Start of the cooperation with CONTIGO, establishment of an own silver workshop with 5 silver smiths
  • 2006: Jewellery production expands, women from the neighbourhood are educated into producing / finishing necklaces
  • 2014: Hari Gautam builds his home in Dhungedhara–Yerahity and establishes the workshop for producing necklaces there. His wife Indira manages and ccordinates the production. The silver workshop (headed by Dipak Bishwokarma) moves to the outskirts of Khahare (near Taudaha Lake)
  • 2015: In April the terrible earthquake damages the silver workshop and destroys Hari Gautam´s home village in Kavrepalanchok District (short: Kavre)
  • 2017: Hari Gautam and his family moves with the jewellery production to Nayabazar neighbourhood, Khushibhu (Kathmandu)
  • 2020/2021: Situation under the Corona pandemic
    • Months of lockdown delay production, silversmiths return to their home villages (they fear food supply shortages in Nepals capital Kathmandu)
    • Restricted air traffic cannot fly out finished jewellery shipment
    • The silversmiths and the finishing department are reduced to a skeleton staff
  • CONTIGO is the only regular customer for Hari Gautam´s silver jewellery to this day

Hari Gautam´s social engagement:

  • 2004: Co-founder of the children´s home PAORC „Poor and Orphan Relief Center“, an initiative from Nepalese hiking guides
  • 2011: Children´s home moves to the north-eastern outskirts of Kathmandu, construction of the „bottle house“: 5% of Gautam’s annual profits are donated to this facility (till 2016, because by then the PAORC organisation has stable financial incomes)
  • 2015: After the terrible earthquake the PAORC „bottle house“ is totally destroyed and uninhabitable. The CONTIGO e.V. (registered society) helps to rebuild and accounts for payment of wages for the smiths and the equipment
  • 2016: Hari Gautam financially supports the „Pragati Kiran English Secondary School“ in Katunje Besi (in Kavrepalanchok District, about two hours’ drive east of Kathmandu)

 

Cooperation with CONTIGO since 2005

Structure of the business

Gautam14Since the beginning of 2020 the company has been reduced to a skeleton staff. Hari Gautam takes over the coordination and organisation of all jewellery work, purchasing of silver and gemstones, quality control, packaging, and export. Hari is supported by his wife Indira.

 

Work environment & Work organisation

  • Silver workshop in the village of Khahare (near Taudaha Lake)
    • Self-employed silversmith Dipak Bishwokarma works with his wife and brothers who also live with him.
    • Since 2021: Dipak is the owner of the house with workshop and his own retailshop in Khahare.
    • Production of rings, ear hangers and bead elements made of silver for Hari Gautam. An all-the-year employment is not possible by now so gold jewellery is also made for the local retail shop
    • Note: the Bishwokarma sub-caste / clan traditionally belongs to metalworking jobs, in the former caste system the Bishwokarma belongs to the Dalit (the pariah, untouchables)
  • Jewellery production in Kathmandu
    • Private home in Nayabazar district, Khushibhu Kathmandu. The building accommodates a Montessori kindergarten, the Gautams’ private flat and the jewellery workshop.
    • Indira Gautam and a long-time employee Keshari Gautamproduce the jewellery
    • If needed, up to 6 women from the neighbourhood help out
    • Hari’s wife Indira plays an important role in coordinating the production of necklaces and bracelets and in training new women

 

Sales

  • Exports (nearly 100%) to Germany
  • Small quantities are sold to private customers and via a retail shop in Khahare (run by Dipak Bishwokarma´s wife)

Goals

  • To improve product quality and to optimise the technical know how

Special features

  • Since the beginning of the cooperation, Hari has supported the silversmiths in building up their independence by lending them raw materials, teaching them calculations, supporting them with sales and distribution in Nepal. The silversmiths are allowed to use part of the material for their own work (since 2020 only one silversmith, see above).

Why does CONTIGO work with Gautam: CONTIGO is amazed by Gautam’s silver jewellery. The social engagement of the owner is unique. Next to the very good salary and excellent working conditions he provides, Hari Gautam, the founder, is extremely committed to helping Nepal’s children. Hari Gautam built an orphanage, a school, and sanitary facilities for a school in his home village. Hari is very resourceful and always finds a way to implement his ideas. CONTIGO very much appreciates his creativity.

 

Fairtrade classification

FTA = Fairtrade Approved

 

Fairtrade aspects

Gautam Handicrafts 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

  • Official minimum wage in industrial sector: NPR 15,000/month (NPR=Nepalese Rupees), since 2021
  • Wages of other silver smiths in Kathmandu: NPR 18,000 – 20,000/month
  • Wages of the silversmiths at Dipak´s workshop:
    • Agreed piece rates, up to NPR 24,000 / month can be earned (good order situation)
    • Raw material allowances: the calculated demand is increased by 10%, if the silver smiths work carefully and with little waste, they can use the rest for their own works
    • In case of weak order situation and as Gautam Handicrafts’ own orders do not ensure continuous employment: loan of material for external orders
  • Wages for jewellery production:
    • Agreed piece rate, according to difficulty
    • Cash payment at the end of the month
    • Bonus payment on holidays (one monthly wage as bonus for the biggest Nepalese festival Dashain in October)

Humane working conditions

Working hours:

  • 8 hours/day
  • 6 days/week

Social benefits:

  • (as needed) loans are granted, e.g. in times of weak order situation (see above)

 

Transparency

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

 

Monitoring

  • Personal visits in Kathmandu (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2018)
  • Feedback interview during several visits in Germany

 

Country information

See Encyclopaedia Britannica: Nepal

 

Photos

Visiting Hari Gautam and Dipak in Kathamandu (2018)

Visiting Gautam Handicrafts in Kathmandu (2015)

 

Hari Gautam and his wife Indira visit Germany (June 2012)

Hari Gautam visits Germany (July 2011)

Hari Gautam im Gespraech mit Ladeninhaberin Heike Eisenblaetter Hari Gautam Praesentation2 Hari Gautam Praesentation_Gruppenbild

Visiting the orphanage (2012)

Visiting Gautam Handicrafts in Kathmandu (2011)

Visiting the orphanage (2011)

Visiting Gautam Handicrafts in Kathmandu (2009)

Visiting the orphanage (2009)

Author: Janina Lange on 30. December 2021
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