Introduction : Folk International is a social welfare organization, and a Non-Profit retail sales center. Folk International commenced operation on February 1, 1999, with merchandise from selected groups of highly skilled crafts persons, covering handloom textiles, clothing, embroidered items, toys, leather goods, gift items, jute items, handmade papers and a range of handmade paper stationery items. To broaden the market for the crafts persons Folk International has embarked on several training and production programs, those have given the crafts persons a better understanding of market demands, both locally and for the ever-challenging export market, with focus on product development, productivity, and quality control.
Folk International is a member of International Fair Trade Organization (IFTO), Ecota Fair Trade Forum, Banglacraft, Bangladesh Leather Goods and Footwear manufacturer and Exporter Association, JOBs.
Target Groups : Folk International has targeted specific social groups, who despite of their poverty have exceptional skills in various handicrafts. Due to lack of opportunity and lack of positive direction, these groups have previously not been able to generate a sustainable income, from their traditional skills. Moving from their villages to city areas, to take employment primarily in industry, there is an increasing risk that many of their traditional skills will not be passed to the next generation, creating a loss of cultural identity. The targeted groups are; destitute women, widowed and divorced women, people of indigenous minority culture, displaced persons, and young men living in slums. With a long-term co-ordination program Folk International, have created approximately 200 groups in Bangladesh , which are made up of 3000 craft persons. 90 % of the craft persons are women, from the targeted groups, most of whom who have suffered social rejection. The principle groups are located in Dhaka, Gazipur, Mymensingh, Tongi, Brahmanbaria, Magura, Rajshahi, Bagura, Rangamati and Bandarban,Cox’s Bazar,Natore. Additionally Folk International works alongside promoting and selling the products of other independent co-operatives and NGO’s such as; Proshika, MCC, YWCA,USHA, SEDS, Nari Unnayon Shongstha, Charka, Dhaka Handicrafts, Swallows, and many others. Marketing support and training programs are extended to the crafts persons of the indigenous minority groups primarily Chakma, Marma, Mru, Garo, Monipuri, Tripura,Santal, Kashia, Tonchonga,and Rakhain. Folk International represents the true culture of Bangladesh, from all regions, from all cultures, enabling the craftsperson to earn a stable income from their traditional skills, and passing their skill to the next generation.
Training Center : A training center for women has been successfully established in Kewachala Village, Gazipur. A six month training and support program is given , covering initial assessment of skills, and to which area of handicrafts the women will be most suited. Groups are established , into workshops, from which various crafts are produced. Products are retailed through the Folk International retail showroom, and proceeds paid directly to the various groups. Assistance is given in order to ensure a continual supply of orders to the groups, to ensure regular incomes . Motivation and encouragement to the groups is prioritized. A second training center is in operation in Mymensingh.
Marketing Activities : The crafts produced through Folk International, have been exported to USA, UK, Norway, Austria, Spain, Portugal, France, Australia and neighboring Nepal. A growth related market has been developed , through, participation in International Trade Fairs, and product display in the retail showroom. Folk International have also established a trading relationship with Nepalese crafts persons, exporting Bangladeshi crafts to Nepal and importing Nepalese crafts. Exchange of crafts, results in a broader awareness of a neighbor’s culture. We always participate in international Trade Fairs in USA, Germany and Australia.
The retail showroom, covers a broad spectrum of the crafts produced by the people of Bangladesh, giving the visitor an unforgettable and enlightening introduction to the skill and progressive creativity of the crafts persons of Bangladesh.