Mary & Martha, Mongolia
Mary and Martha was founded in 2007 with the express intention of running an ethical, fair and transparent business that has a primary objective of supporting the growth of small and micro indigenous businesses in Mongolia.
Mary & Martha is a company that stands or falls on the products it sells; it has to make a profit to be self sustaining and to have the cash flow to fund the expanding business and those of its artisans. They believe that they should show ethical, fair and transparent businesses can compete head to head with main stream businesses, without major donations and without running at a loss. Ethical, fair and transparent because that is in our DNA and because many said it was not possible in Mongolia. They follow the principles of “Unashamedly Ethical” personally and corporately and adhere to the 10 Fair Trade principles used by the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO). They have been members of WFTO since 2011.
Currently all of their business is in the handcraft or semi handmade product sectors. These sectors tend to be non-automated, using hand tools or basic cottage industry type machines and so employs more people to step up production rather than buying more machinery. They try to take skills and cultural aspects passed on from generation to generation and utilize them to make products that appeal to other cultures, without losing the indigenous aspects. But this does not always make a living for people so new skills need to be developed to produce products that a wider audience desires. They encourage a number of our artisans to see themselves as more than hand craft workers - actually artists in their own right, which brings out more self expression.
Mary and Martha contract with their artisans each year, often taking up to 90% of their yearly production through 8 - 10 orders during the year. They encourage them to become self sustaining in relation to finance but they still provide up to 50% advances on orders and often give long term advances so that materials can be bought when available or equipment purchases can be made. No interest is charged on advances. Advances are gradually paid off at a reasonable rate through the purchase of products.
A note from Bill & Irene, owners:
Our hope is that customers buy our products because of the quality and the usability at an affordable price, covering a range of budgets. We hope the icing on the cake is for customers to discover how our business model works and to learn more about the artisans behind the products - an ethical and fair success.