Santir Silpa

Santir Silpa-Team


Profile of CONTIGO´s partner Santir Silpa

Supply chain

Trading Partner: Santir Silpa, microenterprise
Function: Producer
Structure: Own production plant, affiliated production groups
Tradeway: Direct import CONTIGO

Kolkata to Göttingen (Source: Google Earth)


Bags and accessories made of goat leather


Kolkata (district of South Pansila) in the state of West Bengal, India – distance to Europe: 7,300km

Founded in 1978


  • Background: The family of Biswanath Chatterjee initially came to India/Kolkata as refugees from East-Pakistan (today Bangladesh), where Mr. Chatterjee started to work for a textile company
  • 1978: Economic crisis, high unemployment rate
  • Together with his uncle Naresh Chakraborty, who is married in Germany, Mr. Chatterjee primarily starts to sell shanti leather products: their customers are students, who distribute Indian handicrafts at university campuses in Germany and Italy
  • With the help of his friend and production manager Bijoy Bit, Mr. Chatterjee set up his own leather workshop in his residential building. The distribution for Germany is organised by Weltladen Minden
  • 2002: Weltladen Minden contacts CONTIGO with the request to assist in marketing the shanti products
  • 2002: CONTIGO gets to know Santir Silpa
  • 2008: Santir Silpa employs 10 women and 9 men permanently and works together with additional 4 groups from the surrounding area
  • 2015: decline of the craft, in earlier times there were 63 companies in the district of North 24 Parganas who worked in shanti leather, now only two are left, including Santir Silpa
  • From 2015: important customers in Europe are gone, due to the lack of sales only 5-8 staff members can be employed permanently
    2014_Santir Silpa3

Cooperation with CONTIGO since 2002

Structure of the business

Number of employees:

  • 8 employees (3 women, 5 men)
  • Partnership with 5 workshops in the district

In the year 2017 many employees have been working for Santir Silpa for more than 15 years. The youngest employee is 45 years old.

Organisation of workforce:

In the main workshop:

  • Production manager Mr. Bijoy Bit
  • Tasks of the women: painting of the embossed leather, which is called „touching“ (Sabita Saha, Rama Nag)
  • Tasks of the men: embossing, cutting, complex sewing works. Further tasks: quality control, preparation of material packages for the external workshops, packaging and shipment of the products
  • June-August: due to the monsoon rains no or less production, nevertheless   the employees are coming to work to try out new models, samples and designs, continuous payment of the employees     

Santir Silpa works together with 5 workshops, each is specialised in a certain product segment (bags, wallets, small accessories)Santir Silpa8

  • All raw materials are getting prepared (embossed, coloured, cut): the material packages are delivered by Santir Silpa
  • Work is paid by piece rate, as agreed before. The out door workshops do work predominantly but not exclusively for Santir Silpa



  • Exports (100%) to Japan, Canada, Germany and Spain


  • To maintain all jobs
  • To secure a stable income

Special features

Why does CONTIGO with Santir Silpa: Between CONTIGO and Santir Silpa a long-standing partnership has been developped. CONTIGO contributes a lot of product development and improvement of quality. All suggestions are listened to and well implemented. As a result the amount of jobs are stable. There is no fluctuation among employees. The quality of the products is continuously getting better and better. The working atmosphere is good and cordial.


Fairtrade classification

FTA = Fairtrade Approved



Fairtrade aspects

Santir Silpa 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 HIVSantir Silpa15

Fair wages

  • Minimum wages in the state of West Bengal: (INR = Indian Rupee)
    • Un-skilled worker: INR 7.776/month
    • Semi-skilled worker: INR 8.553/month
    • Skilled worker: INR 9.409/month
  • Wages at Santir Silpa:
    • Un-skilled worker: INR 7.000/month
    • Semi-skilled worker: INR 9.000/month
    • Compared to others in the district of North 24 Parganas, the wage level is good and is increased by social benefits (see below)
  • Salary increment every year (due to inflation)
  • Bonus payment (1.5 months salary) on the occasion of the main religious holidays

Humane working conditions

Working hours:

  • 9.5 h (8:00am-5:30pm)
  • 1 break
  • 6 days/week

Social benefits:

  • Paid holiday (30 days)
  • Continued payment of wages in case of illnessSantir Silpa1
  • Voluntary payment of contributions to health insurance ESI (=Employee State Insurance), both contributions paid by employer
  • All employees are accident-insured
  • Establishment of a social fund:
    • Employees can apply for loans for family matters (marriages, births, deaths)
    • Decision over the use of the fund are made collectively by the employees



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



  • Personal visits in Kolkata (2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019)


Country information

See Encyclopaedia Britannica: India 



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Author: Janina Lange on 28. January 2021

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