Fair Trade Values
Mai Savanh Lao is a Fair Trade Lao Silk and Tea Company established in 2005 in Laos. Mai Savanh Lao is a founding member of the Lao Fair Trade Organization and a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) since 2009.
As a Fair Trade Company we uphold the following Fair Trade Values:
Mai Savanh Lao gives an opportunity to families to earn an honest living through various activities related to Lao silk and tea. For nearly all our producers these activities are home-based and hence strengthen the family ties and have a family protective impact.
For poor women with children who moved to the city the home weaving activity is often their only source of income. In the countryside weaving provides an additional regular income, keeping the mothers home-based.
Mai Savanh Lao has access to 200 well-trained and well-equipped weavers. They are organized in a network that benefits from Technical Assistance and Quality Control provided by Mai Savanh Lao.
Silk and tea production
Sericulture and tea production are labor intensive, land based, rural industries which play an important role in providing employment to socially and economically disadvantaged classes specially women living below the poverty line. Therefore Mai Savanh Lao has set up a Lao silk and tea training farm in southern Laos and is planning to expand its producer network in order to create a stronger dynamic around the silk and tea sector.
Transparency and Accountability
Mai Savanh Lao has a clear and transparent cooperation policy with employees and producers. Mai Savanh Lao is committed to fair and respectful trading with its buying partners.
Mai Savanh Lao has developed effective training material and has a dedicated team who offers training and follow up seminars. Farmer-to-Farmer experience exchanges as well as small study tours in different producer areas are used as dynamic teaching tools.
Promoting Fair Trade
Mai Savanh Lao is a founding member of the Fair Trade Laos, the Lao Fair Trade Association. This small group of motivated business people and NGO's believes in the potential of Fair Trade to improve producers' and farmers' lives while offering customers a high quality product.
Payment of a Fair Price
A fair price in the regional or local context is one that has been agreed upon through dialogue and participation. It covers not only the cost of production but enables production which is socially just and environmentally sound. It provides a fair price to the producers and takes into account the principle of equal pay for equal work by women and men.
All of Mai Savanh Lao's producers know in advance the price Mai Savanh Lao will pay for the required products. This attitude helps create trust with the farmers and expand our producer network.
Making written contracts binds both parties and is helpful to build trust and avoid misunderstandings.
Mai Savanh Lao has a reputation of paying fair wages and treating its employees fairly.
Mai Savanh Lao is also known for focusing on quality products and paying accordingly good prices.
In Laos, women handle the whole silk production as a side activity.
The silk value chain is in their hands. That gives them a good opportunity to create regular income for their family and is also a source of dignity.
Silk production can bring real economic improvement if done properly. Read Luan's story!
Mai Savanh Lao's leadership ensures that all personnel and producers are working in safe and clean conditions. Working times are strictly in accordance with Lao law and ILO. Mai Savanh Lao's philosophy is that you cannot produce high quality products under bad working conditions.
Silk and Tea have never been an industrial activity in Laos and nowhere in Laos has child labor been reported in these sectors. Young girls learn from their mothers how to handle silk and start often by the age of 10 to weave small pieces as decoration for their traditional skirts. Mai Savanh Lao policy is very clear on this point: children have to go to school and need their playtime. However teenagers are often seen giving a hand in the evening or on the weekend especially for cleaning cocoons or feeding the worms. This is not to be considered as child labor!
Sericulture and Environment
Silk and Tea production are non-polluting activities. The use of solar energy for irrigation purposes and hot water supply allows Mai Savanh Lao to operate on a low Carbon Emission level.
Furthermore Mai Savanh Lao Farmland is certified 100% organic by ACT since. Mai Savanh Lao promotes eco-friendly farming procedures (composting, fertilizing, plantation management, drip irrigation) in order to have a positive impact on the environment.
Regular income through the silk and tea sector is an incentive to help farmers to reduce the destructive practices of shifting cultivation (slash-and-burn).
Mai Savanh Lao as a Fair Trade Organization trades with concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of marginalized small producers and does not maximize its profit at their expense. Mai Savanh Lao builds long-term relationships based on solidarity, trust and mutual respect that contribute to the promotion and growth of Fair Trade. Whenever possible producers can request pre-harvest or pre-production advance payment.