~ Maggie's Organics ~


Ann Arbor, Michigan - Maggie's Organics is proud to play a critical role in a project that will improve the lives of garment workers in Nicaragua. Maggie's is partnering with a foundation that will have initial ownership of a newly constructed sewing facility. Workers will acquire ownership over a five-year period. "We hope this project will serve as a model of social responsibility for companies doing business in third world countries," said Maggie's President Bená Burda. Over the last decade, the garment industry has been moving overseas, often exploiting workers in sweat shops where they must toil long hours in dangerous conditions to earn enough wages to survive.

"Our sewing contracts will be enabling this group of workers to gain control over their work and their lives," said Burda. The sewing co-op is located 20 miles outside of Managua, in Neuva Vida, a village entirely devastated by hurricane Mitch. The region's infra-structure, what little there was, is gone. As a result, daily survival has become a constant struggle. Many of the women in the area have since been forced to travel to free-trade zones to work in sweatshops or "maquilas".

The project will provide an opportunity for men and women displaced by the hurricane and victimized by "the system" to work closer to their homes, using skills they already have. By establishing ownership in the co-op, the project will improve the standard of living of the workers and allow them to have control over their futures. Maggie's has mandated a salary minimum, which is a significant increase over the current average. In response, the workers have volunteered to use some of this increase as a "development fund" for other community-based businesses.

"In addition to the sewing contracts Maggie's will provide, we are working with other companies who share our business ethics to expand this plant even further," said Burda. Though a fraction of the total garment industry, Organic clothing sales are growing and Burda is excited about the possibilities of the entire endeavor. "This supports our mission of having significant impact on the lives of our customers and suppliers, as well as affecting pride in craftsmanship and quality," added Burda. "It offers us 'trading partners' who have a vested interest in our success at building the market for organic and fair-traded goods."

The building construction has been completed, thanks to the capable hands of the workers who have built the plant themselves. Maggie's has helped to secure sewing equipment in the U.S. that has been shipped to the new facility. Production of Maggie's garments should begin by fall - 2001.

The project promises to bring to fruition a long-time goal of Burda's. Maggie's is a staunch supporter of fair trade, responsible business ethics, as well as environmental stewardship. The company operates in a close-knit community with farmers, yarn mills and garment assemblers across the U.S. and off-shore to produce their goods.

"Developing relationships with people who work in the mills and sew our garments is one of the unique things about Maggie's," said Burda. "Their stories, families, and lives enrich ours, and we're blessed with a customer base that believes all of this is important," added Burda.

Since 1992, Maggie's has made comfortable, affordable, and durable clothing from the most environment-sustaining materials and methods. Maggie's makes a wide range of clothing and accessories from Certified Organic Fibers including: Socks, Camisoles, Underwear, Nightshirts, T-shirts, Dress Oxfords, Gloves, Aprons, Tote Bags, Sheets, Bedding & Baby Clothes.

Maggie's Organics

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