At this time, one of APFTI's missions is the expansion of Fair Trade into the local markets. How to expand local markets has been an issue the social entrepreneurs of APFTI grappled with for the past couple years. Their solution: A national chain of Fair Trade Shops! They began implementing their project in 2009, and have learned a lot in the process of starting with four locally operated shops in Cebu, Bohol, Naga and Cagayan de Oro. Interestingly enough, each shop showcases local producers as well as cater to the market interests of local buyers.
In the North, a Fair Trade shop may have reduced or stopped ordering altogether in order to weather the economic crisis, but in the South when every buyer you supply suddenly takes the same action, the impact is amplified and a global crisis becomes very personal. Honestly, every time I mention it with managers of Southern FTOs, I see a sadness reflected in their eyes; there is a sense of abandonment and disillusionment that trade is not all it promises to be, whether mainstream trade or Fair Trade, all is subjected to the same whims of a globally interconnected market.
One thing Chou noticed was how the WFTO Philippines functions as the center of a strong national network of FTOs, while APFTI Fair Trade Shops are localized centers for producers to network and get involved in Fair Trade activities and advocacy in their community. Local shops were empowering local producers, making Fair Trade tangible to their neighbors!
Youth and the Spirit of Volunteerism
On a personal note...
However, that is not all I have overlooked. As this journey enters the third month and the inquiry leads me to Indonesia, I see that there is a need to create a more comprehensive publication that is useful for Fair Traders around the globe; something that can present the contextual realities as well as provide practical tools that can be utilized by practitioners, advocates, and consumers alike; to present a common understanding of Fair Trade, the issues it faces as a movement, and reflect on lessons learned.