Mahaguthi, Craft With A Conscience
Asia & Oceania // Nepal
Mahaguthi, Craft with a Conscience, is a nonprofit organization that plays a vital role in supporting socially and economically disadvantaged artisans of Nepal. Mahaguthi began with the goal of making the poor self-reliant and has been a pioneer in the non-profit social service sector.
The organization was founded by a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, who started working with women, widows and low caste people in 1927. While studying with Gandhi, he learned to spin and weave cloth and returned to Nepal to organize a spinning and weaving project in the Kathmandu valley. He later founded a school and an ashram, or spiritual community, which became a home for destitute women where they could come with their children to find a safe haven. The Tulsi Mehar Mahila Ashram, the parent organization of Mahaguthi, is a women's center that continues to provide shelter, food, support and vocational training in tailoring and weaving to women, with the objective of making women self-reliant. Mahaguthi, Craft with a Conscience began as a retail outlet for the spun textiles in 1984, and has since expanded to include crafts from over 1000 artisans throughout Nepal.
Part of the income from sales of the crafts helps to run the ashram and its programs for women, but Mahaguthi's impact is broader. They also provide regular employment and support to producers throughout Nepal, working with 100 producer groups in 15 regions of Nepal. Their work encourages the revival of cultural, artistic and craft traditions, while upholding fair trade principles like payment of fair wages, benefits for producers, safe working conditions, protection of the environment and the promotion of long term sustainability.