Supplier Spotlight: Lanka Kade

Lanka Kade supply almost all of our gorgeous fair trade toys, most of which you can see in a rainbow of colour just inside the door into our shop. One of our customers said it all with this comment: “My kids LOVE this shelf….. a little too much sometimes!”

The name Lanka Kade translates to “The Sri Lankan Shop”, and was started in 1994, when founders Diane and Upul set up a small import business to maintain links with Sri Lanka, where they had both met working for the Red Cross. Since 1994, Lanka Kade has grown to become an established business specialising in the design, craft and supply of fair trade wooden toys and gifts for children. These toys are all, without exception, bright, appealing, educational, and handmade in Sri Lanka by 10 independent artisan groups. Upul travels to Sri Lanka regularly, working with the artisans to ensure fair trade working practices are met and maintained. He knows the name of every single person involved in the production of Lanka Kade toys; that’s over 160 people in Sri Lanka who work at 10 independent artisan groups! Lanka Kade’s commitment to their producers supports their growth and development, whilst ensuring their employees have a sense of job satisfaction and that their employment is valued. The producer groups offer their staff good rates of pay, equal opportunities and a safe working environment.

Lanka Kade also have a strict environmental policy, which includes reducing their dependence on traditional forms of energy, reducing the use of plastic packaging by replacing it with paper offcuts, designing a range of small toys suitable for manufacture from offcuts to reduce wood wastage, and to continue to educate their artisans about sustainability and to work with them to further reduce the impact their actions have on the environment.

When you purchase one of these toys you also directly support Lanka Kade’s educational foundation which provides books and daily milk drinks to several rural schools in Sri Lanka. For some children attending school, the cup of milk provided by the foundation is the only sustenance they will receive during the day.

Similarly, many children in Sri Lanka attend school unable to fully participate as their parents cannot afford to buy exercise books which are not supplied by the government. In schools supported by the Lanka Kade foundation, books and pencils are provided to ensure all children have equal access to education. This has been instrumental in seeing a big increase in school admissions within the rural schools the foundation supports, with more children than ever attending school, exam results improving, and the Public Health Inspector praising the impact that both programmes have had on the health of the children.

For the story of Lanka Kade’s multi-ethnic rag dolls, which are soft and cuddly and come in various colours, reflective of the multicultural world we live in, please have a look at our Toys page on the website – where we explain how these are made and the positive impact being involved with Lanka Kade has had on the artisans’ lives.