We are a small family company based in Belgium, passionate about the wellbeing of…
We do it because…
We started with a very different idea, but quickly got drawn into the fight to preserve the natural environment in Sri Lanka. This led us to Fair Trade , with its ten basic principles, and then on to the seventeen goals of Sustainable Develoment. Add to that our friendships in Sri Lanka and India developed over years and you have the basis of our business. We work together to develop authentic products that work for Europe and give real financial support to the communities we work with. Because we know that what is good for the South is also good for us ; because the environment doesn’t recognise national boundaries and because we are all in it together. Whatever your defintion of it is…….
What does FairTrade mean?
Requirements to be certified FairTrade
We are Guaranteed Members of the World FairTrade Organisation. This means that we are regularly audited and assessed to make sure that we, as a Company, comply with the 10 basic principles of Fair Trade.
These include paying above average salaries for the area, equal pay for men and women in the same posts, health and safety at work, the right to organise as a work force , education opportunities and training.
There are also local considerations that we take into account. For example, there are 4 religions in Sri Lanka : Buddhism for the Singhalese, Hinduism for the Tamils, Islam and Christianity. We show that each is represented fairly in the factory and can take their religious holidays without problems.
I have just completed our 60 page report on our activities for the WFTO : it is all there for those who wish to see.
Three different characters with one aim – to promote Fair Trade and Sustainability through our Company – Elecosy, from West Flanders.
She drives the Company (and us) forward , with typical West Flemish energy. She makes sure that we grow, step by step, in the right direction and that we keep sight of our aims and objectives.
She is also a professional from the paper industry and brings all those skills to the table.
Nevertheless, to Mady, many customers become friends and that combination of camaraderie and professionalism makes Elecosy what it is.
That’s me , on the left, the follicly challenged one ( grass doesnt grow on a busy street ), with the stain on his shirt. Well, to be fair, we had just had afternoon tea in the Gardens at Sissinghurst (highly recommended !).
I have worked for the past 25 years selling industrial papers and wanted to start something similar , but with a direct benefit to those involved. Fair Trade in other words.
So Mady and I started Elecosy to develop our handmade papers and to trade directly where the need was, starting in Sri Lanka , then India. I think the products speak for themselves.
Marketing & Design
After two years working his way around Australia , he came back to us and now lives and works in Gent , busy with his Art and Fair Trade.
Even crashing his beloved drone, whilst taking pictures of elephants in Sri Lanka, hasn’t affected his enthusiasm for Fair Trade and Eco Living and designing new things for us.
Maximus started with the first elephant dung production in Sri Lanka, 1997. But it wasn’t until 2006 , when they won the BBC World Challenge for Sustainable Entrepreneurship , that they became better known.
Under the same management as 1997, Maximus have invested in their business : a new water treatment plant , new production in more Northern areas of high human/elephant conflict , new equipment for recycling waste paper and a laser cutter are just some of the advances.
But the emphasis is on artisanal, handmade products , with good working conditions and pay. For women who have family responsibilities – caring for the old or the young , or both – a workplace has been opened deep in the countryside. They can work only a few hours in the middle of the day : they sign themselves in and out and work as they can.
Revolutionary for Sri Lanka , but now more than 15 years running.
Despite all the challenges of running a business in Sri Lanka – the Civil War , the Tsunami, the Negombo bombings , Covid, the current political and economic woes , Maximus continue, with a little help from their friends.
Auroville Papers began production of paper from cotton waste in 1996. Under the guidance of Luisa , the Italian founder and artistic director and with the skills of the local Tamil women , new products were created. Products from cotton paper, such as bowls and flowers, art papers.
The city of Auroville itself is a place of particular interest. It was founded and built by ‘The Mother’ , in 1968, a Parisian, who together with Sri Aurobindo had a vison of a city of no statehood, just people from all backgrounds, living together as an example of harmony to the world. 2000 Europeans now live there and contribute with research or developing industries.
India is notorious for poor working conditions, but all who work for Auroville papers enjoy health care and education for their children, as well as a safe and well paid workplace.
It’s a pleasure to work with them, developing colours and designs for our european market, with their Indian and Italian creativity.
El Rhino was created by Mahesh Bora , twenty years ago, after he retired from the Indian Coal Board. He wanted a retirement project of social enterprise. Working with the marginalised tribal people of the forests of Assam in far North East India, was the challenge he wanted.
He started making paper from elephant and rhino dung and gave steady and good quality employment to the tribes people, many of whom had lived outside the cash economy.
Today his daughter Nisha runs their business and brings her own style of marketing to it.
Everything is done with the future of the Kasiranga Rain Forest and its endangered inhabitant , the One Horned Rhino, in mind.
Because of rural poverty, many women go to work in the Middle East , leaving their families behind and only returning several years later. The impact this has on their families and on themselves is a cause for grave concern in Sri Lanka.
To try to counter this, Sandra Wadurangala started a Company that places handlooms in women’s houses and contract to buy the bales of fabric created. This enables rural Sri Lankan women to work when they have free time and to generate income for their family.
Now Sandra and her daughter Selyna push forward the Company even further , as they focus on sustainability , natural dyes and organic cotton.
Do your bit for the fight against modern slavery and purchase a handwoven Selyn product.
Like us, a Guaranteed World Fair Trade Organisation and also dedicated to sustainable and natural products. Incense is a product that is notorious for low quality ingredients and very low wages.
But with Maroma offering 100% natural products and excellent working conditions , we are very happy to offer you their beautiful incense. We hope to introduce more of their fine production in the coming months.