FOTW have had the opportunity to meet Mayur Singh and Naomi Jacob the founders of Coopita, a social enterprise, to understand how they are making an impact for a sustainable environment and improving the lives of Artisans.
Tell us more about yourself.
I’m the mother (founder) of Je Moeder, which translates as “your momma’” in Dutch.
So what is Coopita all about?
So Coopita is a platform that aims to preserve the traditional craft skills of Asia so why did we start this platform?
In the first place for me the story all began at my wedding in when my mother actually gave me two saries and they were really special saries. Because she told me that they could not be replicated anymore. Essentially the artisans who have the skills to make these weaving techniques no longer exist, so they moved into other industries or other livelihoods. This struck me personally as something that was really sad and emotional. Like within my livelihood or within my generation itself, we had lost some form of cultural heritage. This is what really got me going in to look into traditional crafts and the we and how we can actually preserve them.
Essentially with Coopita, what we aim to do is not ask people to buy more but actually just to think about the consequences of their purchases or the consequences of their consumerism. To make it very clear when you buy a product that’s listed on Coopita, you are not just buying a product but you’re connecting with a human face, a human voice a pair of hands who has spent hours making in the art.
In fact, you can read the stories of each of the artisans on our website or you can write to us if you want to find out more and we’ll be more than happy to share pictures or work-in-progress images with you.
I think the most essential thing about Coopita is that we’re working very hard to help consumers to find that connection once again with where their products come.
So currently we work with over 50 artisan communities and different countries in Asia. This includes different kinds of artisans such as textile artists or weaving communities. For example people who work with you know non-traditional leathers.
So actually the idea behind Coopita, it has a business model as a for-profit social enterprise. Which focuses in blending the impact that we generate by impacting the livelihood of artisans with a for-profit organization. so that we can all be sustainable. What we do actually is to work towards impact outcomes, such as providing stable livelihood to artisans, empowering women artisans (Because in Asia most of the artisans tend to be women.) and as well as working towards some better climate.
How do we achieve that?
As we work more and more with artisans, we realise that sustainability is actually intertwine immediately with them. So when you come to Coopita and see a product on Coopita, there are few things that we can ensure to you.
One is we define what handmade is because it had become a generic term we define by auditing the process that our artisan partners are actually using and the communities are using. Basically not doing large assembly line manufacturing kind of craft products. The second is being sure that they use natural materials and they are using sustainable practices which go range from providing fair wages to good living conditions to the people.
In addition to this, we also work on providing good products to you which you and I can use in our daily use and not something which is very traditional and non functional. So we believe in product innovation, which is also something we do collaborate closely with our artisan partners.
What we do is essentially for our maker communities is we find new demand centers.
One of them is through e-commerce which was the first product that we launched. We also do a lot of offline events through which we are able to provide them sales increasingly. And recently we’ve open our products to be physically sold in a retail store at the Green Collective in OneKM Mall.
Separately, we’ve seen a lot of interest from businesses within Singapore who want to work with us. These are businesses ranging from corporates to even management companies to a lot of sustainable fashion brands, who want to actually work with us, to tie up with a transparent verifiable and a value chain which has already been audited.
Which is what Coopita is able to provide to them and at a very very minimal cost. Which is very very high for individual artisans to do so, through all these businesses we are able to provide more income, a stable income to them and to impact the life.
In addition to that, what we also do is capability building services where in we consult with them to provide to work with them on our products. Which can be marketed to a global audience. so when you buy from Coopita you are not just buying a sustainable product you’re also empowering the lives of artisans across Asia and we have communities that we work with.
That’s what we aim to do by working with you and bringing you this curated selection selection which you can actually use in your daily wear and alongside empower this huge community across Asia.