The Noah’s Ark Story
Moradabad is a city with a population of 700,000 in which more than half are involved in the metal handicrafts trade, but the industry has long been plagued with injustice: artisans are paid low wages, forced to pay commissions to exporters, and must self-finance raw materials needed to complete orders. As the cost of metal has become prohibitively high and the international market has evolved, artisans must invest in diversifying beyond Moradabad’s signature brass crafts, though many fall victim to bad debt or shop closure. Trades passed down from one generation to another form an important part of India’s culture. Yet the heritage and tradition of handicrafts is increasingly threatened as insufficient profits force marginalized artisans to seek other professions.
After six years of witnessing the struggles of artisans first hand, Samuel Masih established Noah’s Ark International Exports in 1986 to change the foundation of the exporter-artisan relationship from fear to trust in an effort to raise the artisans out of poverty and preserve their livelihood. Noah’s Ark is the first and only Fair Trade certified exporter (member of WFTO and FTF India) in Moradabad. The company has supported artisans and their families with fair wages higher than local wages, long-term business investment and collaboration, and health and education initiatives for over 25 years.
An NGO, Noah’s Ark Handicrafts & Artisan Welfare Society, was created in 2000 to advance the charitable activities of the organization, which now include clean water, education, health and capacity building initiatives. Through their work, they give an identity to the artisan’s craft and help them to appreciate the value of their products while ensuring they have the skills and resources to succeed in a changing market. Like the biblical story of Noah’s Ark that symbolizes the concept of saving mankind, they strive to save the art of making handicrafts.