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.