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In our last post An Unlikely Marriage: The Department of Defense and the Oriental Rug Trade in Afghanistan we spoke about the efforts of the DOD to support the Oriental Rug trade in Afghanistan through their subsidiary AfghanMade. This time we’ll tell you more about the efforts being made to support socially responsible business practices and sustainable weaving communities within the industry.

Twenty to thirty years ago major concerns were being aired about child labor and other unethical labor practices in the rug industry. Though many organizations were already supporting local communities at that time, today it has become increasingly common.

We are proud to support companies that help their weavers and weaving communities.

Yayla Tribal Rugs

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Chris Walter of Yayla co-founded two non-profits, Barakat and Machik, with the belief that profits generated through rug making should be channelled back into the communities that produce them.

Barakat provides communities of Central and South Asia with quality education for women and children, healthcare and environmental preservation, as well as teacher training for human rights and seminars on women’s empowerment.

Yayla and its Tibetan rug producing subsidiary, Zamling Carpet, are the primary corporate sponsors of Machik. Machik supports innovative strategies that promote sustainable development spaces on the Tibetan Plateau. It focuses on the following themes: education, conservation and green technology, women’s initiatives, economic opportunities, multimedia and digital technology and social entrepreneurship.

They are also proponents of using all natural, ecological materials and have been doing so since their inception.

Zollanvari

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In 1953, Zollanvari founded the first mobile school for nomadic families. Since the 1990s Zollanvari has taken this a step further by sponsoring the teachers of these nomadic schools to provide a higher quality education.

Zollanvari aids nomadic families in other ways as well: supporting hospitals and maternity clinics, building waterlines and winter quarters and donating heaters where needed. They also provide small loans throughout the community and pensions to widows.

Care & Fair Members

Several of our providers are members of Care & Fair. This organization strives to bring an end to illegal child labor and provide education, healthcare and women’s empowerment to rug weaving communities. They’ve established over a dozen schools and several hospitals and medical centers. Members of Care & Fair, such as Momeni Rugs, Inc, Thibault Van Renne and ORIA, have become participating members to show their commitment to responsible labor practices and investing in local communities.

Tibet Rug Company

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Like many of their contemporaries the Tibet Rug Company is committed to child free looms. They’ve also partnered with ReSurge International (formerly Interplast), an organization of medical volunteers who provide reconstructive surgery to children born with cleft palates and other needs, opening a speech therapy clinic in 1999 to assist with rehabilitation efforts.

These are just a few examples among many. We are seeing a considerable upswing in the industry as a whole toward adopting ongoing initiatives to give back to weaving communities on both a large and small scale. In response, Oriental Rug Mart and other retailers continue to seek out suppliers that embrace social responsibility as part of their mission.

Do you believe it is important for companies to provide education, healthcare and other support to their rug weaving communities? Would you be more likely to buy a rug from a company that has made clear efforts toward social responsibility?