Traidcraft Exchange, the development charity arm of the Christian-based fair trade organisation, is to get more than one million Euros (£726,000) from the European Union to help poor producers in Vietnam, Cambodia and India improve their trading opportunities.
It is the first time in Traidcraft Exchange's 24-year history that it has won simultaneous grants from the EU. Collectively, the three grants represent one of the biggest funding successes it has ever achieved.
'What makes these grants even more significant is that they pave the way for us to apply to the EU in the future for block grants - funds not tied to any particular project - and that has huge significance for the type and extent of work we will be able to do,' said Geoff Bockett, Traidcraft's Director of International Development.
'However, the EU is only part-funding these projects so the immediate challenge for us is to raise the co-financing - around £240,000 - we need to allow us to draw down the EU cash.
'It's a big challenge but we're confident that with the help of our supporters we'll meet it and that will have a huge impact on the lives of thousands of producers over the three years of the projects and for many years thereafter.'
The biggest grant of £309,000, will help build the capacity of 40 social enterprises in Cambodia to offer their members practical advice and assistance in improving their businesses.
Among the groups the project will particularly target are those providing work for landmine and polio victims, those living with HIV/AIDS and those widowed by it; and groups working to alleviate poverty in rural areas.
The second grant of £266,000 will help traditional art and craft producers in central Vietnam develop and increase their export sales through training for 30 small and medium-sized business and around 25 in-country product development and business consultants.
The third grant of £148,000 will increase the ability of small, usually family-run business in some of India's poorest regions to benefit equitably from trade by building wider understanding of the fair trade market in India and establishing monitoring and certification programmes.
'Although this project is the smallest in cash terms, it could have the largest human impact of the three by some considerable measure,' said Geoff Bockett.
'Using a multiplier of five to represent the average family, we estimate around 250,000 poor people could benefit directly while indirect beneficiaries will include suppliers of raw materials, urban consumers, and the poor and disadvantaged communities of the producers themselves through improved provision of social programmes.'