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.
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.
Our artisans make approximately 3-6 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. We pay our artisans 100% of the asking price of their products, and 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 percentage for the compassionate entrepreneur. This ensures that the artisans are receiving the price they decide on, which is a fair and living wage for their products.
Over all, women in developing 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. And without an American women selling these products and raising awareness, our artisans would not have a sustainable income. The exact percentage 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. While varying percentages are hard to give, the commitment to that fair and living wage behind each product stays the same.
Trades of Hope partners with fair trade groups and ministries who are on the ground to guarantee accountability and has an entire Artisan Development department committed to ensuring that fair trade principles are maintained, checking in with our artisans weekly, and making sure each decision the company makes is a win for the artisan.
This is what we are doing through these purchases. We are changing whole communities, generations, and futures! As a member of the Fair Trade Federation, see below the Fair Trade Principles we are committed to keeping:
Fair Trade is a strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Members create social and economic opportunities through trading partnerships with marginalized producers. Members place the interests of producers and their communities as the primary concern of their enterprise.
Fair Trade involves relationships that are open, fair, consistent, and respectful. Members show consideration for both customers and producers by sharing information about the entire trading chain through honest and proactive communication. They create mechanisms to help customers and producers feel actively involved in the trading chain. If problems arise, members work cooperatively with fair trade partners and other organizations to implement solutions.
Fair Trade is a means to develop producers’ independence. Members maintain long-term relationships based on solidarity, trust, and mutual respect, so that producers can improve their skills and their access to markets. Members help producers to build capacity through proactive communication, financial and technical assistance, market information, and dialogue. They seek to share lessons learned, to spread best practices, and to strengthen the connections between communities, including among producer groups.
Fair Trade encourages an understanding by all participants of their role in world trade. Members actively raise awareness about Fair Trade and the possibility of greater justice in the global economic system. They encourage customers and producers to ask questions about conventional and alternative supply chains and to make informed choices. Members demonstrate that trade can be a positive force for improving living standards, health, education, the distribution of power, and the environment in the communities with which they work.
Fair Trade empowers producers to set prices within the framework of the true costs of labor, time, materials, sustainable growth, and related factors. Members take steps to ensure that producers have the capacity to manage this process. Members comply with or exceed international, national, local, and, where applicable, Fair Trade Minimum standards for their employees and producers. Members seek to ensure that income is distributed equitably at all times, particularly equal pay for equal work by women and men. Members ensure prompt payment to all of their partners. Producers are offered access to interest-free advance payment for handmade goods, or pre-finance of agricultural harvest with favorable terms.
Fair Trade means a safe and healthy working environment free of forced labor. Throughout the trading chain, Members cultivate workplaces that empower people to participate in the decisions that affect them. Members seek to eliminate discrimination based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, age, marital, or health status. Members support workplaces free from physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal harassment or abuse.
Fair Trade means that all children have the right to security, education, and play. Throughout the trading chain, Members respect and support the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as local laws and social norms. Members disclose the involvement of children in production. Members do not support child trafficking and exploitative child labor.
Fair Trade seeks to offer current generations the ability to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Members actively consider the implications of their decisions on the environment and promote the responsible stewardship of resources. Members reduce, reuse, reclaim, and recycle materials wherever possible. They encourage environmentally sustainable practices throughout the entire trading chain.
Fair Trade celebrates the cultural diversity of communities, while seeking to create positive and equitable change. Members respect the development of products, practices, and organizational models based on indigenous traditions and techniques to sustain cultures and revitalize traditions. Members balance market needs with producers’ cultural heritage.