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.