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Noah's Ark Int'l Exports

Noah's Ark International Exports is a fair trade handicraft marketing organization in Moradabad, India. Noah's Ark provides benefits such as education and medical treatment for artisans and their families. As artisan businesses become more self-sufficient, Noah's Ark takes on new families. Since the company's inception, about 20 artisan workshops have become independent.

Noah's Ark started in 1986, in one room of a family house in Moradabad. Businessman Samuel Masih observed that exporters and middlemen were taking advantage of handicraft artisans. He started Noah's Ark to promote these artisans and their crafts.


  • School of Dreams

    Children in Moradabad, India, have a new opportunity for education thanks to the initiative of Noah's Ark, a fair trade handicraft business based in the city, and a Ten Thousand Villages trading partner.

    Inspired by the dream of artisan Mohammed Shahid, who saw that many children in his neighborhood were not able to get an education, Noah's Ark opened a small school in November 2007, specifically for these children. “Many of these families are poor, and are unable to afford the cost of school books and uniforms. Their children either drop out or do not go to school at all," said Samuel Masih, director of Noah's Ark. Another factor, pointed out Renee Bowers, buyer for India, is that in some traditional families, education is not generally accepted. Parents who themselves did not receive education can be skeptical. Providing a school where their children can attend with others from the same background can help alleviate this concern.

    Seventy percent of Moradabad's population works in the metalwork industry, producing a variety of craft items and kitchen implements. Due to abnormal increases in the price of raw materials, particularly brass, many workshops have been forced to close, and artisans are left with no work. “We are trying our best to provide regular work to our artisans," said Masih. Still, this is not always possible. With the school and other initiatives, Noah's Ark is making efforts to support artisans even when sales are low.

    Shahid's workshop itself has been out of work for some months. Noah's Ark continues to work with him to market new products, but in the meantime has sought to help the family by hiring Shahid's two sisters and his sister-in-law as teachers in the school. Noah's Ark pays their salaries. “For religious and cultural reasons, these women [who are Muslim] are not allowed to work outside the home, and they must always be veiled," said Masih. Employment at the school is a significant opportunity for the young women.

    Currently some 20 students aged 4 to 13 attend "Noah's School," which is run in Shahid's home. They study English, Urdu and mathematics. “The basic idea is to educate them until the 5th standard [grade] and then get them admitted to 6th standard in a full-time school," said Masih. Noah's School provides regular textbooks and teaches curriculum that will adequately prepare the students for a mainstream school.

    Samuel Masih started Noah's Ark in 1986, in one room of his house in Moradabad. Masih observed that many exporters were taking advantage of handicraft artisans, exploiting them as if they were bonded laborers. He started Noah's Ark to promote these artisans and their crafts, and to invest the earnings into infrastructure and equipment for underprivileged artisans, for training, and for marketing of their products. “We always try to lift up the artisan," said Masih. The company now provides employment for some 300 artisans. Noah's Ark also provides benefits such as education and medical treatment for artisans and their families. Ten Thousand Villages purchases jewelry and brass items from Noah's Ark.

Handmade Products by This Artisan