Hari Basnet, originally from the village of Gorkha in central Nepal, was a long standing partner and advocate for women in Nepal. His story illustrates a commitment to fair trade principles and social equity.
In 1988, Hari moved to Kathmandu for a job with the Association for Craft Producers (ACP) where he started as a store employee before working his way up through multiple departments, from marketing to senior management and production coordinator. In all of his roles, he worked tirelessly to advance the status of women in Nepal.
In 2005, Hari used his experience and support from ACP to start his own independent fair trade business. CBA Handcrafts started a small workshop and store to sell products in the tourist section of Kathmandu. Hari hired five under privileged women from the neighborhood to create products. The business developed a strong partnership with ACP;
ACP gave Hari orders and training for the women and he sold ACP’s products in his shop.
We, at Ganesh Himal, worked with Hari during his 18 years at ACP and we were drawn to his strong commitment to enhancing the status of women in Nepal. In 2005, we met with Hari to help him establish CBA Handcrafts by giving him an advance and working with him to develop products that would compliment those we received from ACP. In 2010, we worked with Hari to create a social benefit package that would compliment steady work and fair wages for his now 15 women employees. 10 rupees (7 from Ganesh Himal and 3 from Hari) from every item produced are set aside for their social benefit package, giving the women a pool of money they have control over. At present, the women have decided to create a retirement fund for the group. Although in 2014, two women producers required emergency surgery and their group gave them no-interest emergency loans from the fund for their medical expenses.
In fall 2010, Hari suffered a tragic heart attack and passed away. We were shocked and devastated by his sudden passing. His enthusiasm and commitment to his business and the social benefit package was an inspiration to all. Luckily this inspiration spread to his son (Ishwor), who had just finished college and wanted to continue his father’s work. Thanks to Ishwor’s commitment to his father’s dream, the transition has been almost seamless and the women never lost a day’s work.
Most of you know Hari through the beautiful products that he helped us design and produce: the whimsical felted potholders and oven mitts, the fun eyeglass holders and coin purses, the lovely felted bowls and bags, and the list goes on. We also know Hari for his unbounded enthusiasm and commitment to the women who worked with him. We will miss that. His son, however, shares his father’s commitment to women’s empowerment through fair trade and continuing the legacy of CBA Handicrafts. We, at Ganesh Himal, are grateful for Hari’s dream we will work by his son to continue to make that dream a reality.
Meet a few of the artisans…
Gayanu is the master felter at CBA and she makes the samples. The mother of 4 has worked for CBA for years, which has allowed her to pay school fees. She has one daughter who is studying in the university. She loves working at CBA!
Soba has wored for CBA for 5 years. She has two children in public school. Her husband drives a motobus. When asked bout her favorite part of working, she said, “I can support myself. I can buy my own food, my own clothes. Economic empowerment allows me to be independent.”
Sangita, Hari’s niece, is 20 years old and has worked for CBA for about 5 years. She is class 12, which is equivalent to Junior college in the US. She enjoys studying language arts and is fluent in Hindi, Nepali, and English. She attends classes in the mornings and then works from 11-5.