Fellow Since 1989
Association of Craft Producers (ACP)
This profile was prepared when Meera Bhattarai was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1989.
The New Idea
Meera is initiating approaches to economic development which can employ poor women and treat them humanely. She welcomes poor women into her program, the Association of Craft Producers, and helps them develop craft and management skills, self-confidence, and a sense of ownership over their goods. She then helps them develop products and marketing arrangements that allow a sufficient margin to provide not only competitive incomes, but a wide array of fringe benefits. These benefits include an emergency welfare fund, annual bonuses, a retirement plan, an "educational allowance benefit program" to help female children go to school, and a variety of other services ranging from a ration shop/cafeteria to informal lectures and counseling.Meera hopes that her project will demonstrate that it is possible for emerging industries in Nepal to treat their employees humanely, and that financial and social profit are not incompatible. Meera's experiment serves as an example to the nation of what carefully planned, socially conscious business investment can achieve. The success of Meera's cooperative scheme lies in the re-investment of profits to benefit her employees. Meera realizes that once she establishes a substantial and concrete comparative standard, it will be easier to press for public policies that implement minimum standards elsewhere.