Why Fair Trade?
Many workers around the world are treated and paid very poorly. Approximately, 40% of the world's population exists on $2 dollars a day. You might often wonder how some products you buy can be so cheap - underpaid workers toiling in sweatshops contributes to our "bargains," as do the environmentally destructive processes used to create some of the products we consume. That bargain may come at a very high price to our fellow man and the environment.
But these issues aren't confined to cheap items. Some of the world's biggest companies who place high price tags on goods utilize sweatshop labor - and the profits are incredible.
The principle of fair trade enables people around the world to receive a livable income that covers their basic needs, which include food, shelter, education, and health care for their families. This in itself is amazing, but fair trade even does so much more! Most fair trade organizations strive to make a positive impact in their whole community! Fair trade is about improving living conditions on a broader scale. Your purchase goes toward the big picture of the crisis of poverty.
How Much Is Going Back To The Artisan?
Our artisans make approximately 6 times more than they would normally make in the context of their country. Trades of Hope is not a charity or a not for profit. We believe sustainable business is a long-term solution for change over charity. With that said, we are a missional business that serves as a link in the chain to create sustainable business for both women in underprivileged countries and women in America. Women helping women! We pay our artisans 100% of the asking price of their products so they can make a fair wage. It is not until after we have paid the artisans and it is in our country that we add on the shipping costs and the 20% for the Compassion Entrepreneur and business expenses. This ensures that the artisans are receiving the price they decide on, which is a fair wage for their products.
Over all, women in third world countries do not want charity. They want an opportunity. They want to feel the same pride we feel when they are able to take care of their families. So we have created a missional company to help our artisans create a sustainable business that they can be proud of. We pay artisans a fair wage, and then we also pay the American Compassion Entrepreneur 20% for being a voice for women in need. Without an American women selling these products and raising awareness, our artisans would not have a sustainable income. Trades of Hope also partners with ministries and fair trade groups that ensure that these women are making a living wage. Many of these groups also provide our artisans with schools, wells and certain tools that better enable them to own a business and make a fair income. This solution is breaking the cycle of poverty!
The amount of money each artisan makes is different country to country, because the living wage in each country is different. This also varies by each product the artisan makes. For instance, a basket takes longer to make than a pair of earrings. So the artisan will make more on the basket than they do on a pair of earrings. Some products take hours to make, while others take a shorter time to make. So the percentage on each product is different but the goal is always the same...a fair living wage that breaks the cycle of poverty!
Trades of Hope partners with fair trade groups and ministries who are on the ground and have checks and balances in place to ensure a living wage. These groups enable the artisans to make around 6 times what is the norm in their home country. What is consistent is that our artisans are able to make a fair wage to feed, clothe, house and educate their children.
We are creating an opportunity for women in desperate situations to have a regular income, and often even have the opportunity to own their own business. We are proud to work through reputable fair trade groups and ministries that make certain that this is happening! This could never happen without our American compassionate entrepreneurs spreading the word about fair trade and creating orders for these women.
To put it in perspective:
- What would you pay to have running water available to you, rather than spending your day walking back and forth from a stream miles away carrying 5 gallon pails of water? (Many fair trade groups are putting in wells.)
- How much would it be worth to you to know your children can go to school for free and break the cycle of poverty? (Many fair trade groups have created schools for artisans and their children for further education.)
- How much would you pay to know you will get two hot meals at your work place for you and your children? (In Haiti, and other countries our bead makers have free child care and hot meals for them and their children, as well as medical care.)
- How much would you pay to be able to have an ongoing job and have free childcare? (Many of these people are disabled and the only alternative option is begging with their children on the side of the road.)
- How much would you pay to have a free home after begging on the street as a leper for years?(Many of our fair trade groups, like the leper colony, provide homes and protection from a society that has rejected them.)
- How much would you pay to be able to know that you will be valued and respected rather than being used as a sex slave? (We have women lined up to make soap and get off the streets. They are being trained and educated to have value and a future.)
This is what we are doing through these purchases. We are changing whole communities, generations, and futures!
Trades of Hope utilizes fair trade organizations, co-ops, nonprofits, and missions around the world.There are checks and balances in place at multiple levels with the Fair Trade Federation and the WFTO, The World Fair Trade Organization. These groups ensure that the artisans are getting a fair wage in the context of their country. Many of the fair trade organizations and missions we use are part of the WFTO. If they are not, it is usually only because they cannot afford to be and we have a hands on connection with our own checks and balances, like in Haiti.
WFTO has standards that fair trade organizations must follow in their day-to-day work and carries out monitoring to ensure these principles are upheld. Fair trade is a business model based on internationally, recognized equitable trading standards which place people and sustainability at the heart of every business decision.
The principles of fair trade in short are:
- Guarantees producers a living wage for their work
- Builds long term relationships between producers and buyers
- Engages in environmentally sustainable practices
- Empowers women and provides equal employment opportunities for all, especially the most disadvantaged
- Provides healthy and safe working conditions
- Ensures transparency and accountability
A Living Wage
The fair trade pricing system enables workers to receive a livable income that covers their basic needs, which include food, shelter, education, and health care for their families. Fair Traders pay producers promptly and, if necessary, help them with access to pre-production financing. Most often we pay 50 -100% ahead of time to allow the artisans to buy the material and tools needed.
Long Term Investment
Fair trade is about building direct, long-term and stable relationships between importers and producers. Long term contracts are a key component of Fair Trade because they provide artisans with consistent work and job security.
Fair trade actively encourages environmentally friendly production by promoting the use of local and recycled materials, sustainable techniques and organic practices. Fair trade farmers are required to implement integrated crop management and are given price incentives as well as ongoing trainings, to help facilitate their transition to organic farming. Currently 85% of all fair trade certified coffee is organic.
Empowerment for Women
Fair trade provides employment without discrimination and ensures equal pay for equal work for both women and men. According to the Fair Trade Federation, 70% of fair trade artisans are women who are often the sole wage earners in their homes. Fair trade not only allows women to earn an income, while attending to their daily tasks, but also provides them with leadership positions and an equal voice in decision making.
Safe and Healthy Working Conditions
Fair trade means a safe and healthy working environment for artisans and farmers and no forced or exploitive child labor.
Transparent Trade Terms
Fair trade ensures transparent trade terms throughout the supply chain. Finances, management policies and business practices of businesses engaged in fair trade are transparent.
For more information about fair trade go to the Word Fair Trade Organization: http://www.wfto.com/ or the Fair Trade Federation http://www.fairtradefederation.org/
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