SETU is made up of 2 teams. One team is located in Jaipur, India and is in charge of artisan & product development, production, quality control, logistics and most importantly, upholding Fair Trade practices. The other team is located in Austin, TX, USA and is in charge of product design, web control, sales and marketing operations. Because of our two international teams, SETU is proudly classified as a true global company.
This section will help you learn more about the founders of SETU, who strive towards making this world a just & fairer place…
Rashmi Dhariwal is a successful textile engineer from a prestigious school in Rajasthan, India. Rashmi has worked in the past with a large manufacturing organization in India as head of technology and Quality Assurance.
“I was brought up in a loving and protective family atmosphere, without ever realizing the hardships of life that a lot of people have to go through,” Rashmi tells the team.
Rashmi was leading an easy-going and comfortable life when she came in contact with an artisan community, who had expertise in hand weaving fine fabrics with intricate designs & motifs. Their art was beautiful, but they could not compete with the power-loom fabric available in the marketplace. While they were so good at their art, they still had no prospect of good income. The lack of access to a market and the technology-driven competition were taking their toll on the artisans and the art was dying along with their spirits. They were forcing their next generation to work as cheap laborers rather than pursue their rich art and culture. “That made me realize that there was a lot more in life and that I should try to make a difference, however small it may be,” Rashmi shared. She continued: “There had to be a bigger purpose of my being.”
Rashmi left her job and spent some time with the community, helping them design modern products and identify ways to reach the market. This gave the artisans a lot of confidence and hope for their art. At the same time, the entire experience helped Rashmi visualize a process which could be used to support various artisans achieve economic sustainability and growth.
This was the time when she came across the concept of Fair Trade. She finds Fair Trade a perfect model of sustainable development through ethical trade and a powerful solution to the social & economic development of the marginalized & underprivileged communities, especially in the developing third world.
Inspired by this, she founded SETU with the mission of empowering the social and economic standing of underprivileged artisans by providing them sustainable growth opportunities through FairTrade practices. ‘SETU’ in Sanskrit means `the bridge’. As indicated from the name, SETU acts as a bridge between the underprivileged/marginalized artisans and the international/affluent markets, at the same time, working for social, economic and environmental well-being of the artisan community
“I now feel that I am finally doing justice to the purpose of my existence on this earth. Life has become much more meaningful. I enjoy each and every moment of my work. With Fair Trade, everyone can make a difference in the world, however small it may be“, tells Rashmi to the team.
After closely working with the artisan communities and understanding their challenges for 3 years, she also founded a charitable Society called SETU-Society for Empowerment & Trade Upliftment of Artisans. The basic aim of the Society is to perform works of charity, implement social & economic welfare projects, spread education and raise awareness regarding various issues amongst the weaker sections of the society.
In her words “Every person should develop a feeling of giving back to the society, not necessarily in monetary terms only but by servicing the society in other ways, sparing some time for these less fortunate people, by sharing thoughts, skills and ideas with them. Even small things like teaching a poor kid in free time! It doesn’t cost much and on the other hand, it gives a feeling of mental peace and satisfaction which people are searching for their whole lives. Don’t look at these people with sympathy, rather lend a helping hand to them by making them self sustainable so that they can carve a life of dignity for themselves. In the form of SETU-Society, we have taken a small step towards fulfilling this aim and want others to become a part of our pious mission and get credited for bringing smiles on the faces of these people”
Devendra is a qualified engineer and management graduate, and has 17 years experience of working with various multinational companies as Chief Production Manager.
Since his early life, he had witnessed the barren & tough life of poor villagers. He was very sensitive towards human issues. The challenges and lack of opportunity in the lives of these rural people always remained a concern area for him. “My vision was to create a fair world where everyone gets his fair piece of bread justly,” he says.
To closely understand the issues and challenges of the poor villagers, he visited many remote villages on Indo-Pak border. He was shocked at the deprived state in which the people had to live in. After spending some time with them, he realized that they still practiced their beautiful traditional art and crafts. Unfortunately, because of the lack of awareness and education, they were unable to convert their art into functional products of world’s interest and thus were losing a potential opportunity for their livelihood. “At that point I realized that there was actually a need of a bridge between them and the developed world, which can translate their art into customers’ language and bring them closer to each other,” he shares with the team. This vision of Devendra became the back bone to form an organization which could work as a bridge between the artisans & the global world and finally ‘SETU-The Bridge To Artisans’ was conceptualized.
He believes that education and economic sustainability are the only ways to end the miseries of the underprivileged and marginalized communities. He firmly believes that there is a need to develop new resources for the artisans and make this trade more profitable and attractive. He says, “Unless we are able to attract the next generation of artisans for practicing and continuing the traditional art of their forefathers, we cannot preserve the art. We will only be successful when a parent wishes that his child too chooses his traditional art amongst all other earning options”.
He is a strong supporter of Fair Trade and says, “I think that the best way to live is to make conscious choices about the effect we want to have on the world. And choosing Fair Trade gives us the opportunity to do just that!”
Devendra always takes out time for guidance & support to reinforce company’s policies & vision plans. He still visits artisan groups in the remotest of areas to understand their problems and to suggest possible way outs. “Whenever I take one more step towards my goal of empowering all & creating equality, I feel happy and relaxed. This feeling of satisfaction drives me to work more for my dream to come true”, he shares.