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


Silver jewellery


Kathmandu to Goettingen (Source: Google Earth)

Kathmandu to Göttingen (Source: Google Earth)

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

Founded in 1998


  • 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 – Yarahiti (suburban area) and establishes the workshop for producing necklaces there. His wife Indira manages and ccordinates the production. The silver workshop 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
  • 2017: Hari Gautam buys a plot of land near his current home (and workshop of necklace production) in Dhungedhara in order to establish new workshop rooms for silver smithery. Centralisation of both departments (start of construction is planned for spring 2018)
  • 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 outskirts, 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


Cooperation with CONTIGO since 2005

Structure of the business


Number of employees

  • 2 employees (1998)
  • 5 employees (2008)
  • 11 employees (6 women and 5 men) – (2011)
  • 8 permanent employees (2016)

In the silver workshop:

  • 5 men, 1 woman, of the sub-caste / clan of Bishwokarma (metalworking jobs, in the former caste system the Bishwokarma belongs to the Dalit, the pariah), an all-the-year employment is not possible by now

In the production of necklaces:

  • 2 women
  • In case of huge orders, up to 10 women from the neighbourhood help with the production

Work environment

  1. Silver workshop
  • In the village of Khahare (ca. 6 km south of Kathmandu), workshop with one additional working room and living rooms for the families of Deepak and Dipesh Bishwokarma (brothers), the rent of this house is paid by Hari Gautam
  • The other silver smiths are accomodated in the village or commute from their home towns in case of orders
  • Simple equipment with working desks and technical machines for silver milling, forging, soldering and polishing
  • All materials are placed at the disposal by Hari Gautam, gemstones come from local retailers, silver comes from the bank
  1. Production of necklaces
  • Private house in the quarter of Dhungedhara – Yarahiti: in the building there is a Montessori kindergarden, the private flat of Hari Gautam and his family and the workshop for the production of necklaces
  • Hari Gautam´s wife Indira coordinates the production and educates (new) women
  • Permanent employee: Bimala, a young women from Hari Gautam´s home village, she lives in the house too. Depending on order situation, up to 10 more women from the neighbourhood are involved in the production



Exports (nearly 100%) to Germany

Small quantities are sold to private customers and via a retail shop in Khahare (run by Deepak´s wife)


  • Spring 2018: To buy a plot of land and to establish an own production building with accomodations for all employees
  • To improve product quality and to optimise the technical know how


Special features

  • After the terrible earthquake (April 2015): Hari Gautam helps to rebuild his home village Kavre and financially supports the school building of „Pragati Kiran English Secondary School“ in Katunje Besi
  • Hari Gautam encourages the silver smiths to open up their own businesses by lending them raw materials, teaching them calculations, supporting them with the distribution in Nepal (see: „Fair wages“)
  • Basic income for all smiths is guaranteed (basic wage and advancement in times of bad order situation)


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 13,450/month (NPR=Nepalese Rupees), since 2018 and valid for two years
  • Wages of other silver smiths in Kathmandu: NPR 18,000 – 20,000/month
  • Wages of the silver smiths at Gautam Handicrafts: basic wage + by-piece wage
    • Basic wage: NPR 2,000/month, plus by-piece wage
    • Income depends on order situation, minimum NPR 10,000 – 30,000/month (average wage in 2014: NPR 20,000/month)
    • Basic wage plus advancement (when necessary) are paid all-the-year
    • At the end of the fiscal year, all advancements and by-piece-wages are offset against each other
  • 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
  • Raw material loans for other orders: as Hari Gautam cannot guarantee an employment for all-the-year, he encourages his silver smiths to work for other orders, too, by lending raw material and by offering consulting service
  • Payment in necklace production: by-piece
  • Payment at the end of the month in cash
  • 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:

  • Voluntary payment of contributions to health and accident insurance (NECO)
    • Payment of NPR 7,000/month per employee to the insurance
  • Loans as needed, e.g. in times of bad order situation (see above)



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



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


Country information

See Encyclopaedia Britannica: Nepal



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. March 2018

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