Fair Trade Builds Communities

Gloves Fair Trade Products
Gloves Fair Trade Products

Buying Fair Trade products is more important than ever to keep communities growing and sustaining the people who live there. There is a lot of competition for consumer dollars right now. Many people are watching the bottom line very carefully and trying to get the best possible deal on items they need to buy. There are plenty of cheap options for goods and discount stores that specialize in low prices by buying vast quantities of goods at discounted prices from overseas factories and shops. But price shouldn’t be the only factor that you consider when you are deciding what to purchase. Spending a few extra dollars on a product isn’t going to make a huge difference to your budget in the long run. But those few dollars will make a huge difference to a crafts person in a developing community. Paying a few extra dollars is also the way that you can tell those big chain stores that you don’t want to buy goods made in dangerous factories by workers who are being exploited.

Your money is your voice in the global consumer marketplace. When you spend a little more and buy certified Fair Trade clothing and products you are getting a higher quality product and you are directly contributing to the community where the artisan lives. Even though you pay a slightly higher price for the item than you would pay at a discount store the impact that your dollars have is enormous and can be life changing for small businesses and artisans in developing countries.

How your dollars support community growth when you buy Fair Trade Products:

Empowers artisans and cooperatives:

When you pay the people who make the items that you buy a fair price you are directly contributing to their survival and development. With the profit from Fair Trade sales artisans and cooperative members can feed their families, provide clean drinking water and medicine to their children, and build safe homes. The few extra dollars that you pay for a Fair Trade product can mean the difference between surviving and thriving for a craftsman in a developing community.

Fair Trade educates communities:

As part of the Fair Trade agreement mentors and teachers will work with Fair trade suppliers to teach them how to successfully run a small business. They will also learn basic skills that they might never have learned like reading, math, and language skills to make them more successful. What they learn they will teach their kids and their employees, increasing the chances that they will also be able to run successful businesses and help themselves and the community thrive.

Fair Trade provides schools and medical care:

When a Fairtrade business is making a profit the money they earn will be invested directly back into the local economy. That extra money will allow communities to build community health clinics, public schools, and food banks that will support the people in the community. Children will have access to medical care and an education as well as having the chance to learn how to run a business. When a community has an influx of money they can also fund civic projects like low income housing and facilities to provide clean water and sanitation. Buying Fair Trade products gives you the chance to invest directly in a developing community and have a real impact on the people that live there.

Easier access to loans and financing:

Small businesses in developing countries that operate as part of the Fair Trade network often have access to micro-loans and other financing to help them get started that they wouldn’t qualify for otherwise. Businesses mentors give them knowledge as well as loaned money to help them find suppliers, get equipment and machinery or animals or seeds to get started making items to sell. Having access to that financing means that small companies can employ local members of the community and help to raise the standard of the living in the community.

So stop looking just the price of an item and look at the total cost of the item overall. Buying Fair Trade products may cost you a little extra money but it will also give you the chance to make a direct impact on a developing community.

What is Fair Trade?

Hemp shoulder bag  Fair Trade Products
Hemp shoulder bag Fair Trade Products

Are you confused about what exactly is Fair Trade and what it means? You’re not alone, a lot of people don’t know much about it except that it is supposed to be good for buyers and companies. The movement started by socially conscious consumers concerned about Fair Trade goods who wanted to use their money as a tool to help small businesses and kickstart financial development in underdeveloped countries. Today there are four international organizations that oversee and certify businesses as Fairtrade, and promote the growth of the businesses. Fair Trade International is the largest of the certification agencies and helps millions of small farmers and craftsmen in more than 70 countries earn money and support community growth.

What Fair Trade Means for Workers

Any company that wants to be certified as a Fair Trade company must pay workers a living wage for the area that the business is located in. Workers must have the right to form unions if they feel that it is necessary and they must be allowed to collectively bargain. Also any business that wants to have the benefits of Fair Trade Certification has to give workers safe and healthy working conditions, set amounts of time off, and the opportunity for education and other advancement. Companies that want to stay certified have to be examined every two to three years and if they are continuing to follow the dictates of Fair trade International they can remain certified.

That means that works at these companies have money to feed their families, send their children to school, and get medical care. The opportunity to earn a decent wage is life changing for many people in developing countries. Women especially benefit from the work, often women in developing countries do not have a lot of freedom or choice. Being able to earn a fair salary means that they can become independent and live better lives. Many craft cooperatives and other Fairtrade businesses are run by women out of their homes.

What Fair Trade Means for Business Owners

Small business owners or cooperative leaders can benefit from Fair Trade Act as much as their workers. The businesses average higher sales than larger companies that make comparable products. The business owners get access to advice, promotion, and financing from Fairtrade friendly companies and banks. They also get workers who are happy to come to work and do great work. Helping people while putting out great products is the goal of most the businesses. Working with an international organization gives them the chance to get their products to consumers all over the world and become successful in an ethical and sustainable way.

What Fair Trade Means for Communities

It doesn’t just benefit workers and business owners, it also benefits communities. Consumers pay higher prices to buy Fairtrade goods. There are two premiums built into the prices. One is so that the company can afford to pay the workers who produce the items a living wage. The other is so that the company can invest back in the community. That money that farmers, crafters, and artisans sink back into the community goes to build schools, hospitals, and to provide services that community needs. Some of the projects that are able to be funded through local businesses include building wells and developing clean water systems, developing irrigation systems, and planting community gardens to provide food.

Also the fair wages paid to the workers in the small businesses and cooperatives allow them to purchase more items from local vendors. That increases the prosperity of the entire community. Being able to depend on a good salary means that workers can buy homes, cars and other durable items.

Look Past Higher Price Tags on Fair Trade Products

It’s important for consumers to look past the higher price tag on Fairtrade products and see all the benefits that they bring. When you are buying items that you need and want take a moment to weigh the cost of the item against all the good things that come from them. Consumers who have the ability to pay a few extra dollars for items can improve the lives of a lot of people just by buying Fair Trade clothing and Products.

 

 

 

 

 

The Disadvantages of Fair Trade

Fair Indigo Women's Organic Pima Cotton Circle Neck Tee
Fair Indigo Women’s Organic Pima Cotton Circle Neck Tee

Fair Trade products are part of a program started by people who wanted to use their purchasing power to ensure that small farmers, crafters and artisans had the chance to compete with bigger corporations and make a fair wage doing it. Any small company that wants to operate under the Fairtrade umbrella needs to follow certain rules and regulations and get certified. The certification needs to be renewed every couple of years.

Fair Trade USA
Fair Trade USA

That oversight makes sure that companies don’t just follow the rules in order to get certified and then change their business practices. The program is largely viewed as being good for consumers and good for small businesses. But, some people say that the disadvantages of Fair Trade outweigh the advantages. Take a look at some of the disadvantages and decide for yourself if purchasing these products is something that is right for you.

Buying Fair Trade Products Cost More

It is true that consumers usually pay a little more for products that have Fair Trade Certification. Any products that are ethically produced from produce to shoes are going to cost more than similar products that are sold at big stores. But, price is not the bottom line for socially conscious consumers. Typically Fairtrade items are no more than a few dollars more expensive than the alternatives. Those few dollars might equal skipping a cup of coffee-shop coffee or waiting an extra week to buy a new sweater that you want. But to the artists, crafters, farmers and small business owners whose products you are buying those few dollars have a huge impact. Those extra dollars mean that a child can go to school, or a woman who is trapped in an unsafe situation can finally file for divorce and support herself. Those dollars eliminate food insecurity for families and provide clean water for communities.

Fair Trade Certification is Expensive

Another disadvantage that is often mentioned is that getting Fair Trade certification is expensive for the individuals and small businesses that the program wants to help. The initial process of getting certified can be expensive. But the benefit to the business is enormous. Being a certified business can increase sales by 15% or more for most businesses. There are expenses to running any business and paying for the certification necessary to be part of the program is a business expense that provides a great return. Businesses also need to renew their Fair Trade certification every couple of years which does cost a bit, although it costs less than the initial certification. Being re-certified every few years is important because it ensures that the business if following the protocols of the program. Because of the added marketability that the certification brings the cost is not a hindrance to most businesses.

Does it make a difference which Fair Trade Product I buy?

This disadvantage of Fair Trade is one that consumers who aren’t really familiar with the program often raise. They think that it really doesn’t make a difference if you buy these products or not so people should just buy the cheapest product. To a large corporation it’s true that a single purchase won’t make a difference. But to a small independent business that purchase does matter. Every dollar earned can make a dramatic difference for a family owned business or artist cooperative. It might seem like buying these products isn’t really an important choice to make because you don’t see the impact but dig a little deeper into how Fair Trade works and you will be amazed at the difference your purchase can make.

Possible Disadvantages of Fair Trade

Fair Trade Rising International Inc Women's Starburst Rainbow Jacket
Fair Trade Rising International Inc Women’s Starburst Rainbow Jacket

There are possible disadvantages of Fair Trade and there are many advantages. Yet there are still companies that dislike the implementation. For instance companies involved in selling coffee have been traditionally dominated by four major coffee producing companies. These companies claim that the reason why coffee farmers continue to suffer is because of fair trade. They argue that the movement has allowed many farmers to enter the business of growing coffee. Thus, according to them, this has lead to the overproduction of coffee and ultimately to lower prices. They further argue that because fairtrade sets a minimum price, high-cost producers are prevented from exiting the market. Without the minimum price, some producers would likely go out of business ensuring that the supply of coffee goes down and thereby increasing the price.

Fair Trade Skyscraper
Disadvantages of Fair Trade

Negatives of Fair Trade

The real problem lies  not in why they complain about the implementation of it but in how they have managed to circumvent some of the rules and thus threatening to discredit the whole movement entirely. What these coffee companies did was to have their own ethical branding of their respective products. Thus consumers are unable to distinguish which are fairtrade coffees and which are not due to the saturation.

Fair Trade Organizations

Some fairtrade organizations are developing a unique certification mark. This ensures that the minimum price remains at $1.25 per pound and that the premium is still investment for social services. Still the organizations admit that ethical labeling has somewhat decreased the effectiveness of certification logo. The certification has been, for a long time, one of the advantages over multinational corporations. But because of the ethical labeling this same uniqueness has been undermined. Thus by having their own implementation, they have managed to deceive consumers.

One company for example has the Fair Trade FLO label on their products simply because it buys its coffee from producers that carry the product certification. Another company has also managed to get a certification despite the fact that its ability to mass produce coffee has been one of the reasons why small coffee farmers are facing problems.

Multinational companies will always try to do what they can to gain the much needed competitive advantage. It is up to organizations to ensure that the implementation of fairtrade corrects this error.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this interesting topic of the Disadvantages of Fair Trade.

Fair Trade Federation

Are you looking for a list of Fair Trade products? I just found this great resource for buying fairtrade products. Check it out for yourself and see if there are some products you would like to purchase local to you. Even if they aren’t local most companies will usually ship products to you very happily. The shipping may cost a little more but it will be worth it.

Fair Trade Products List

Fair Indigo Pima Organic Cotton U-neck Tank
Fair Indigo Pima Organic Cotton U-neck Tank

There is a download list available for all sorts of products for sale from all over the world. The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) is the trade association that strengthens and promotes North American organizations that are fully committed to fair trade. If you know of other companies, I’d love to hear from you, so we can share the knowledge about Fair Trade Clothing across the globe!
http://www.fairtradefederation.org

Funky Fair Trade Shoes

Have a look at this company, this company ETIKO Fair Trade Shoes has some really funky shoe designs.

Where to find Fair Trade Shoes

Website legals from Law For Websites