Black Yak in Nepal
Black Yak is recognised by the British Association for Fair Trade Shops as a Fair Trade importer, wholesaler and retailer.
Black Yak supplies Fair Trade, high quality and stylish clothing and crafts from around the world. Our ethos is to buy only honestly, fairly and ethically produced goods from our trading partner producers with whom we work closely to ensure that they earn an honest wage, not just in the busy times but throughout the whole year, that they have safe and pleasant working conditions and that they are able to live and work with dignity and look forward to a better future.
Building fair working relationships
After living and working in Asia for several years Black Yak was born out of a desire to try to improve the lot of our friends and neighbours there. Many small producers are unfairly marginalized by the existing global trading model and are just not able to access international markets to sell the wonderful goods that they produce. Black Yak is able to give them access to markets that they otherwise could not get into and to allow people to realise a very simple desire - to work for a fair wage, to be able to look after themselves and their families and to have a future with dignity and respect.
Black Yak has a policy of maintaining very close and long term direct relationships with our producers, promoting equality of pay and working conditions for all groups in society and putting something back into our supplier's communities. A percentage of Black Yak's turnover goes into a fund to provide sickness and medical benefits so that when our producers are ill they can at least rely upon a basic living wage and are able to pay for medicines and operations. As our producers thrive they too contribute. Black Yak also has a long-term commitment to pay for several of our producer's children to go to school, college and hopefully eventually university. This initially includes shoes, uniform, books and writing materials. Following the success of last year's village river rescue, in which we provided both labour and materials to prevent the river bank erosion of one of the villages that houses many of our knitters. If we had not supplied this support the village would no longer be here. This year Black Yak has enabled expansion by financing the acquisition of a plot of land for building new, clean and safe premises.
All our suppliers are offered a percentage payment 'up front' if they need it and they are all paid promptly. When our suppliers need to buy new machinery such as sewing machines or generators Black Yak offers to help with the purchase either as a gift, interest free loan or shared ownership.
Black Yak visits all suppliers at least once a year and works with each of them to produce high quality, exciting designs. Technical and financial support is offered so that our suppliers have the knowledge, ability and tools to grow their businesses in a sustainable fashion and are in a position to supply other markets worldwide.
Supporting the Nepal economy
Throughout the busy winter woollens production time of the year we use about 120 knitters in Nepal and about ten percent of these are now men. Having men as hand knitters may seem a little strange to us but it is something that we are keen to support as it means that those men who are not physically able to do heavy physical work are now able to earn a living and are not wholly reliant upon their womenfolk to bring in the family income. It also means that families are able to keep their small farms as the men can earn a living from farming and knitting combined and do now not have to go abroad and work on foreign construction sites to provide for their families back home.
Nepal is one of the least developed and poorest countries in the world with almost one third of the population living below the official poverty line, 42% unemployment and just over 80% of the population living on less than $2 a day. The recent Maoist conflict in Nepal has led to a dramatic reduction in tourism from which many people earned at least a little, especially during the quiet agricultural times. The export of garments and textiles has for a long time been an important foreign earner for Nepal and with the recent troubles is now an even more important source of income for many.