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Saoban is a social business that works with traditional artisans to preserve and promote Lao village crafts. We work under the principles of fair trade in order to create employment opportunities for villagers, especially women, and reduce poverty.
In 2005, a Lao non-government organization, PADETC (Participatory Development and Training Center) which specializes in rural and youth development, recognized the potential of Lao handcrafts to alleviate poverty and create employment for rural women.
It started working with small groups of weavers in a village of Vientiane Province, providing technical guidance for product improvement, small start-up loans, and advice for marketing and business development. Soon, other artisan groups approached PADETC for start-up capital and help with marketing and business development.
The result was Saoban. The word is Lao for “village”; the enterprise represents a dynamic and promising new opportunity for an ancient craft. Saoban works on both sides of production, improving product quality and variety while also sourcing markets domestic and foreign on behalf of rural artisan groups.
In 2011, Saoban is working with over 300 artisans in 14 producer groups across five provinces of Laos.
Saoban follows fair trade principles to ensure that artisans receive a fair price for their products and that the whole community benefits. Read more about how we work with villagers and operate under the principles of fair trade.
“My vision for Saoban is not only as an outlet for woven products. Eventually I want to see Saoban serving as a brand channel for rural farmers, and especially women, to market a broad range of quality farmers’ products that include mulberry and other organic teas, rattan and bamboo basketware, and handcrafted silver. I want to ensure that products under the Saoban brand will be traded on the principle of fair trade in the marketplace, to ensure that rural families and communities have the opportunity for a dignified and sustainable livelihood.”
A social enterpriseSaoban is a member of PADETC, a Lao NGO that integrates socially sustainable programs in education, agriculture, micro-finance, handcrafts and community leadership.
Visit our Store
Chao Anou Road, 97/1 Ban Watchan, Chantabouly, Vientiane, Lao PDR
Open hours 9am-8pm Monday to Saturday. 1pm-8pm Sunday.