Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How do Fair Trade Retailers Adhere to our Shared Principles?

In June, I added a blog post, "Our Values, Our Fair Trade Principles", and from this post I have had several comments from multiple perspectives. With the goal of making issues faced in Fair Trade transparent, I have decided to make room for commentaries from producers, retailers, networks, and advocates by providing space for continuing a discussion that I believe desperately needs to occur. As you read this and feel you have something to contribute, I fully encourage your contribution in the comments below.

When we look at Fair Trade as a global system, on one end you have Producers of Fair Trade products that are closely scrutinized in their adherence to the principles of Fair Trade in the various certification systems. However, there remains a question of Fair Trade retailers - how are they adhering to our principles? In particular is the question about the large Fair Trade chains, are they in the words of one Fair Trader, simply becoming "an outlet for exclusive WFTO products"? Several times the question came up about Fair Trade retailers and importers not necessarily being held accountable to Fair Trade Producers.

Indochine Natural, an all-natural soap producer, established by Dr. Mike Thair and his wife, Linh are in the process of becoming a WFTO-Asia member. I met with them on this Journey and witnessed firsthand how they put Fair Trade principles into their everyday practices. In the post on Values and Principles he made a few observations worth noting here: 

While there is a lot of focus on Producers and their adoption of these principles, what about the retailers themselves? Are they offering employment opportunities for the disadvantaged in their own communities and capacity building? Is there adequate transparency with customers on retail pricing? 

I would like to see these Principles applied across the entire Fair Trade supply chain. OK, the retailers are providing outlets for Fair Trade products, but I think it needs to be more than this.

Retailer, Playing Fair, added to this comment concerning their role as a retailer and the role of the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand (FTAANZ):

I'll second what Indochine Natural said. As a retailer there is more to the business than just being an outlet for exclusive WFTO endorsed products. What about the role I play in the local collective, or the info I send out about FTAANZ with each order? I really need to sit down and make these part of a mission statement, so that they are properly accounted for and in the forefront of my mind as I go about the daily business.

Jose, a Fair Trade advocate in Spain, wrote his perception on this issue:

I must say that I would also LOVE to see these Principles applied across the ENTIRE Fair Trade supply chain.

I believe the whole Fair Trade chain and consumers should be more aware of ALL conditions and demand more transparency and commitment to FT principles "here and there". 

From my own experience as a volunteer in PeaceCraft, a Fair Trade retailer in the US, I knew there were some really outstanding retailers that held themselves accountable to Fair Trade Principles and actively promoted local Fair Trade Movements whether they were student initiatives on campus or a citizens movement for trade justice. Some retailers have committed to expanding Fair Trade locally not just in terms of sales and awareness raising, but by supporting local disadvantaged communities as well. 

However, in other cases there is a sense that a Fair Trade retailer is little different from any other retail shop. Essentially they simply use Fair Trade as a marketing ploy to increase sales to the socially conscious and do little more than that. These retailers are easy to spot, you can walk in and see the colorful displays with an array of beautiful uniquely cultural crafts, coffees and chocolates, but not much else:
    • No information about Fair Trade or about producers who made the crafts (See Principle 3: Trading Practices) 
    • There is little connection between the shop and the major issues Fair Trade engages with such as addressing global trade injustice, or empowering women with income generating activities promoting their cultural heritage (See Principle 1: Creating Opportunities for Disadvantaged Communities; and Principle 6: Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Freedom of Association) 
    • No ongoing Shop-Based Advocacy, little-to-no information on how to get involved in the global Fair Trade movement, and no mention of Fair Trade initiatives or events in the community (See Principle 9: Promotion of Fair Trade) 
    • No price breakdown for customers to see the percentage of the sale as a product moved through the supply chain describing what percentage of the sale goes to the producer, to the shipping and handling, and to the store itself to cover overhead and staff (See Principle 2: Transparency and Accountability, and Principle 4: Payment of a Fair Price)  
    • No information on how they contribute to the development of Fair Trade Producer groups outside of sales (See Principle 8: Providing Capacity Building) 
    • Not disclosing information related to their impact on the environment (See Principle 10: Respect for the Environment) 
    • And in these nonchalant retailer shops, the staff are not even familiar with the ten principles of Fair Trade (Read: "Our Values, Our Fair Trade Principles")
    If you are a retailer reading this blog, or a socially conscious consumer and this description sounds like your local Fair Trade shop, I suggest it is time for a change! Even more so if your shop is a member of a chain of Fair Trade retailers... 

    Fair Trade Retailers have an obligation 
         to follow the same principles as the producers.

    With that said, I went in search of an example of a local Fair Trade shop and member of a Fair Trade chain dedicated to expanding Fair Trade locally by providing opportunities for a disadvantaged group in their community to enter Fair Trade. I owe a special thanks to Maryann Wohlwend, a Board Member of the Ten Thousand Villages store in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, USA, for her contribution to this long overdue blog post. Maryann is truly a Catalyst for Social Change in her community, bringing various social interests and businesses together for a common purpose! Her's is an inspirational story of commitment,  devotion, insight and reflection. For this reason I have reprinted her email in its entirety, and the emphasis placed throughout are her own:

    Hello Mitch~great to hear from you.  Excellent posting, as usual, and I am encouraged to read the comments of those who sincerely seek to make a difference and discuss these issues... My work for both, Lydia's Purse International & as a regional Board Member for a Ten Thousand Villages store in Cleveland Hts, Ohio allows me to see both sides of these coins.  

    I had considered shipping myself, working with groups in the Philippines and India (for LPI), and have concluded that it is best for small producers to start by selling within their local markets. When I considered the impact of these small groups being truly self-sustaining, I discovered how powerfully they can take the lead in strengthening their communities! Their retail presence introduces customers to the need ~ they have the opportunity to communicate & educate consumers on FT principles ~ when the consumer has been engaged, they can be invited to participate in the solution as a customer or a volunteer of the producing organization, or as a donor to supply needs, network on their behalf & meet long term goals for the organization. 

    Working within my own local community, Lydia's Purse International's presence in NorthEast Ohio is accomplishing just this!  Our mission is to Empower Women of Excellence ~ "Sewing Handbags & Sowing Hearts".  We believe that when a woman comes to know her True Worth & Great Value as a child of God, and is provided an opportunity WITHIN COMMUNITY to quickly learn a new confidence-building skill~and this is most important ~ ENCOURAGED & having FUN alongside a volunteer who is sharing the process WITH her, not lording authority over her, a woman passing through a rescue mission has a chance to break the cycle of generational poverty!  It is truly a mustard seed of Global Change!!

    You see, within the past 18 months, since sharing the Vision of Lydia's Purse International (via word of mouth, blog, a simple marketing trifold & selling handbags), we have received mountains of donated fabrics from the Ohio Design Center Showrooms, as well as other area fabric & furniture stores, seamstresses & ZERO Landfill organization.  The ladies who work in these interior design showrooms will go so far as to rescue discarded swatches from their dumpsters ~ to provide for the local Lydia's Purse class & keep them from mounding area landfills!!  

    Along this supply chain, we have educated and engaged retired sewing teachers & area philanthropists to beFRIEND and encourage the Participants, as Volunteers in the classroom ~ and beyond!  These volunteers are so inspired by the Vision that some continue the friendships when the Participants have graduated from the rescue mission, or they have brought donors to our door, providing brand new sewing machines and resources to operate the class and send Level III graduates off with brand new sewing machines of their very own!!  

    Participants who are in the long term care of the rescue mission offer to make handbags (from the rescued & rePURPOSEd design swatch fabrics) for inventory sales (which raises extra operating funds) while they continue to make friends and receive deeper discipleship training.  Volunteers, rescue mission staff, even I am still making handbags to contribute to sales.  

    Our collections have found a niche in area independent FT stores, produce markets, home parties & coffee shop sales events.  Even the rescue mission is able to host sales events for staff & the public, as all sales are handled by my company, MaryannDesigns, ltd.  My company then retains a small percentage of profits (toward operating costs & expenses), while donating the greater portion back to the non-profit rescue mission, which hosts the class and provides the inventory. One local, well-established market, even donates the space we use to sell handbags and share the Vision, without requiring any repayment in return, its owner simply wanted to use his business in a generous & responsible way!!

    In the past 18 months, the branches of our little tree have sprouted and Lydia's Purse International has sold hundreds of bags ~ each reflecting the story of a Woman who was discarded by society & discovered a new purpose and HOPE ~ the perfect metaphor for the handbags they are creating!  Even the pattern's 4 panel design reflects the Vision of Empowerment within community: 4 unique fabrics, representing women from different facets of Life, coming together to form a beautiful & functional commUNITY!!

    In my former business, MaryannBags, ltd, I created one of a kind silk handbags, priced to compete with other brand-recognized items of "quality".  When we first started selling the collections of Lydia's Purse International, I priced the handbags a little higher than the market for competing FT items... only to realize that the Vision, which the bags represent, is Priceless (and frankly, we weren't selling too many)!!  My own way of thinking about quality vs quantity was transformed, and we established a new retail price (which was a bit lower than the original wholesale cost).  The new retail prices, $12 for an extra large MarketBAG and $10 for a medium ShopTOTE, now attract customers who, when they learn about the Vision, will often purchase for themselves, family, friends & as meaningful gifts ~ and also, because we have not "dictated" the items' great Value by overpricing, some customers donate monies above and beyond their receipt, to support the Vision, Mission & Women of Lydia's Purse International!!  

    As a current Board Member of our local Ten Thousand Villages store, also, I have no misgiving about their Mission to only support & sell the products of select Global artisan groups, sharing their stories in North American markets.  Yes, they are a large, well-established FT retailer now, and were a leader 60 years ago, when founded, simply, by a woman on a missions trip with a Vision.  

    There's a place for all of us who have a desire to "Be the Change we want to See".

    As a little girl who dreamed of seeing the world, I could never have imagined that my path would lead through a meadow on the French Alps, overlooking the City of Geneva ~ praying for the nations of the World... to dusty, rural villages in southeast India ~ listening to stories of young widowed mothers hoping for a better the 1st Lydia's Purse class a half hour away from home ~ seeing smiles begin to form on the faces of women who have just learned to sew...and replying to an email request for a new class in Morogoro, Tanzania ~ to empower Swahili women who are quite literally dying for lack of HOPE!

    One of the foundational verses for Lydia's Purse International is found in the Heart of God, written by Paul in a letter to Corinth, and handed down for generations of those who support the value of all.  1Corinthians 1:26-29 "Brothers & Sisters, think of what you were when you were called.  Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him."

    The greatest commandment we have been given to live by is to Love our Neighbors as we Love ourselves.  Each person has seeds of education & experience to sow, resources to refresh others or the light of compassion to cheer those in need.  There is UNITY in commUNITY, and a self-sustaining mission can truly strengthen a local region...and inspire Change in the Global Economy!

    Are you Blooming where you are planted?

    Mitch ~ this was meant to be a simple reply that grew and grew into an overdue blog post!!

    Please feel free to contact me!!
    I look forward to hearing from you,
    Maryann Wohlwend

    Maryann's commitment to localizing Fair Trade in her community is exemplary. Honestly, if Fair Trade is to be relevant in every community where a retailer exists, there needs to be a similar effort to provide opportunities beyond simply offering socially conscious purchases and feeling good about it. Fair Trade Retailers have an obligation to follow the same principles as the producers.

    What struck me most about her story was how she was able to connect interest groups such as Zero Landfill and local businesses that embrace social responsibility such as the Ohio Design Center Showrooms. Furthermore, she found outlets for sales in independent Fair Trade shops, local produce markets, home-based activities, coffee shops, and one marketplace which donates space for selling and sharing the vision of Lydia's Purse.

    Back to the Fair Trade retailers... in February I wrote a blog post, Catalysts for Social Change. In that post I included a Fair Trade Advocacy Matrix which I have added here. This matrix is useful for initiating or reinvigorating a Fair Trade Awareness Campaign in your community regardless of where you reside. The purpose is to begin brainstorming on how Fair Trade can become a reality in your community by raising awareness through Shop-Based Advocacy, in religious institutions, with social networks, amongst students, on campuses and to mobilize activists. 

    Fair Trade Advocacy Matrix, Mitch Teberg, MA, 2011

    Fair Trade retailers are essential to the equation and how they integrate the principles of Fair Trade is important to the Movement as a whole. Our efforts to Make Trade Fair can begin by reviewing the current practices and activities of our retailers and identifying areas for improvement.

    If you have a story you want to share on how your store is central to an advocacy campaign; promoting Fair Trade through ongoing creative cultural activities; or involving community organizations in the movement, feel free to share it in the commentary below. 

    Special thanks to Dr. Mike Thair of Indochine Natural in Malaysia, Nadiah from Playing Fair (Australia), Jose of Spain, and Maryann Wohlwend of Ten Thousand Villages / Lydia's Purse in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, USA.

    Chou, I and Little Journey thank you for joining us in our ongoing Journey for Fair Trade now based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Feel free to leave comments, thoughts and ideas below! 

    Mitch Teberg, MA 

    The commentary below is terrific and brings up important points, please read and add your thoughts and experiences!  A few additional points: 
    1. As requested, I have placed this post and discussion into a downloadable PDF file for easy reading in black and white. I may do this for other posts as well if the demand is there. Let me know your thoughts.
    2. Word limit on commentary is set by Blogger (Google), feel free to add more than one comment - this is a very important discussion that needs to be aired! If you are a user, log in, that entitles you to longer commentary too.
    3. If your comment disappears when you post it, it may have gone into Spam box. If that is the case, I will retrieve it and post it. 
    4. Feel free to leave your name, organization and links to your organization in the commentary!

    To read this blog post in B&W on PDF:
    How Do Fair Trade Retailers Adhere to Our Shared Principles


    1. Mitch, thank you for including the entire email. I am humbled by your commendation, and surprised by all that I have actually accomplished as a Stay at Home Mom. Everyone can make a BIG difference~Blooming where they have been Planted!!
      Blessings to you and your Precious Family, your work and our Global commUNITY!

    2. Any retailer that belongs to the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) must follow its standards

      Ten Thousand Villages is a founding member of WFTO.

    3. Thanks Mitch, this is an important topic and my wish would be to see a lot of contributions to this discussion from retailers.

      Yes, we have the WFTO standards, but in practice the compliance is at the producer end, not with retailers. How many Fair Trade retail stores for example have provided employment opportunities and capacity building in their stores for local disadvantaged citizens?

      I would like to see WFTO devise a set of standards that are specifically related to retail settings, and thus complement the compliance at the producer end of the supplier chain.

    4. Thank you Mitch...and wish you best for the endeavour to promote Fair Trade. The questions/concerns you highlighted are very important in the interest of making use of Fair Trade as instrument/model for development and giving attention to the marginalized segment of society.

      Yes, it is a must that all participants/links in the value chain must observe the Fair Trade principles/practices faithfully. In realistic terms, though, there is need for time to comply/meet all the standards. Based on experience, I do not mind if this will take a while, longer for some, shorter for others. I have no worry becuase "doing Fair is doing Good"; and doing good gradually take roots in peoples hearts - I have no doubt that at some point, people will find fulfilment in doing good, and this will sustain them to do so, in deeper ways, in the long run.

      I just had a recent interview with a very interesting Fair Trade "researcher/advocate" a week ago, and I remember telling her that at the very least, our advocacy for Fair
      Trade will result in better and more meaningful compliance to the existing laws on labor, working conditions, care and protection for the environment, protection of children, fair wages, equal treatment for gender, paying taxes, and doing business in a just way in general. On a personal note, I will be happy to achieve this for a start, we will go extra deep as we move on....

      Cheers... and hugs to Little Journey...regards to Chou

      Vic Roaring

    5. Thanks for this post. And you're absolutely right that the primary focus on producer standards tends to overshadow the retailers - let alone all the other stops along the way between producer and consumer.

      And, while retailers who are members of the WFTO have standards to comply with, there are plenty of retailers who are part of the mix who aren't WFTO members. 30 miles from our home we have a coffee roasting outfit that uses fair trade beans, and I think more by virtue of being an excellent business would probably comply with most of the WFTO principles. Then there's our big-box grocery store, that sells Equal Exchange coffee in one aisle and Hershey's chocolate in the next aisle. Should they be required to post information about the Equal Exchange farmers as a prerequisite for selling Fair Trade items? On the one hand, it would be "fair" to hold them to a higher standard. On the other, it might be years before my mother would ever buy fair trade coffee since it's the only place she shops and has the opportunity to be in contact with fair trade products.

      You can probably tell which side of the issue I'm leaning towards. Thanks for the excellent post and the opportunity to think it through.

    6. Mitch, I was hoping to read this article but the white and yellow color of the text on dark brown makes it very difficult for my eye sight to see. Is there a chance to get this article in a regular black on white format?
      I work for the Oriental Rug Program out of the Ten Thousand Villages store in Ephrata, PA and the most important part for us is to tell the stories of our rug artisans through direct dialog, photos of the artisans on the walls, information on each rug tag, seminars, etc. Our daily goal is that every person who walks into the store walks out with at least a basic understanding that these rugs are made by fairly paid adults in Pakistan, that children have a chance to go to school. Find us at for more in-depth information.
      Wish I could say great article but I was only able to read the beginning. thanks for posting though.

    7. Thank you Mitch for these thoughts and testimonies. I strongly agree that efforts have to be made by retailers to provide more information about the producers they work with. That is exactly what I'm trying to do with them with "Fair Trade Connection".
      We too travel the world to meet fair trade producers and make videos about them to inform consumers about their reality.

      Watch all the videos on:

    8. Thanks Mitch for creating opportunities to network on these issues!

      As a retailer in a relatively low-income mountain town (population 3,600) in far-Northern California, I can't afford to carry the FT inventory volume that 100% FT retailers in the San Francisco Bay Area or other metro areas carry. I originally moved out here over 5 years ago intending to open an FT retail shop but quickly discovered it wouldn't survive a few months here. In an area like this, small biz owners have to diversify the inventory to appeal to as wide a variety of local customers as possible, otherwise the business will shut down, unable to cover overhead, much less any basic living expenses above that.

      Thus, I sell art supplies combined with FT handcrafts, and in this economy (where gift-buying has significantly reduced - 3 gift shops have shut down in the last year), about 80-90% of my sales are in art supplies. The FT portion of the business continues now as a labor of love, and honestly contributes hardly any revenue to pay the most basic business expenses (rent, etc.). Basically, the art supply sales allow me to continue to carry the FT inventory. Because it's a relatively low-income rural community, I do not go over the importer's suggested price point for any item, and even sometimes mark it a bit lower to make it affordable to local customers. As much as possible I hand out available literature about the artisans and about FT in general (I have a free FT literature section), encouraging customers to go to the websites to find out more.

      As a local business owner in my community, I also put energy into supporting local movements that promote local sustainability and environmental issues, and shop locally as much as possible. I don't see any difference in promoting local sustainability versus sustainability in rural/urban communities worldwide. And as a public face in my community, it inspires me to bring awareness about this, encouraging compassion among local clientele to bring attention to other similar, although geographically/politically/economically/culturally-variant, communities in other parts of the world.

      I currently cannot afford to pay any employees (so am here every day), but in the past when I have had employees, I always paid an hourly wage above the average in this community.

      My retail situation is not typical, but there are many that are not, and especially in this economy, it's necessary to be creative and flexible to even remain in business. A post above mentioned that they saw FT chocolate across the aisle from Hershey's in a food market. I would be happy that at least the option is there for those consumers who want to support it, and feel they can afford to. It's important to create the opportunities for consumers to buy FT, whenever a business has the power to do it. I understand the need to deliver undistorted FT info at retail locations as much as possible about products/farmers/artisans, etc., but if we put too many conditions on who is allowed to carry FT in their retail shops (restricting it to "undiluted" retail environments), we might be missing a lot of opportunities to promote FT in geographical areas who might otherwise be deprived of it.

      As always, thanks Mitch, and hope you & Chou are continually staying inspired with the little one!

    9. Velvet Iris mentions that "the FT portion of the business continues now as a labor of love", that she "cannot afford to pay any employee", that she hands out literature, and that she doesn't mark-up.

      Velvet Iris wrote My retail situation is not typical, but I wonder if it might be more typical than we realise.

      Nearly every other active member of our Collective is in the same situation, minus one who is big enough to hire help.

      Again, I urge the retailers who are doing it right to make it explicit on their website and in their literature. And I'm going to take my own advice right now and augment my own website accordingly!

    10. I think what Caspar said is an interesting point:

      "Then there's our big-box grocery store, that sells Equal Exchange coffee in one aisle and Hershey's chocolate in the next aisle. Should they be required to post information about the Equal Exchange farmers as a prerequisite for selling Fair Trade items?"

      FTAANZ in Australia has done amazing work getting our local Woolies and Coles (grocery stores) to stock Fairtrade chocolate and coffee. While the grocery stores have also helped by e.g. hosting Fairtrade info days in-store, because Fairtrade is not their central business their advocacy role is pretty limited. On the flipside however, they are the biggest retailers in the country, and so you just can't argue with their market power. As Caspar points out, having large retailers stocking Fair Trade or Fairtrade Certified may be the only way that certain segments of the population will ever find out about the concept of fair trade.

      WRT holding retailers to a standard, it's worth pointing out that there *are* standards that Fair Trade businesses can be held accountable to when they are endorsed by the regional bodies of the WFTO. For example, there is BAFTS (British Association of Fair Trade Shops) which has the 10 principles including advocacy and information as part of their requirements. In Australia FTAANZ has just a few months ago set up the Fair Traders of Australia endorsement, which is similar to BAFTS and also reflects the 10 principles in its requirements... (to be cont'd)

    11. (... cont'd) As a new business myself I am not yet a member of FToA (you must be more than 1 year old to join - echoing the comment above about giving us a bit of time to comply), however as FToA becomes established I would advise consumers to look out for that endorsement as a way to discern if their retailer is an active participant in the movement.

      Finally for fellow retailers I'd recommend that we have a little *less* humility about the work we do. I know personally I don't feel comfortable bragging about my business' practices - I know that there are greater businesses than mind doing wonderful work - however with all the cynicism about greenwash I think it's right for those who do it right to make that known...

    12. (... cont'd) I am surprised to see that the two other most active members of the Qld Fair Trade Collective don't mention the (literal) thousands of hours that they have donated to organise Fair Trade events over the years. Christmas markets, fashion evenings, FTAANZ events - these things don't organise themselves, retailers donate their own precious time, away from their businesses, to make them happen. Just a few months ago I watched a fellow collective member run herself ragged as she struggled to organise an Ethical Fashion evening. I believe that these women (our collective is all-female for some reason) deserve recognition for their work, and if no one else is going to give it to them then they need to claim it for themselves.

      Certainly I will be raising this at the next online meeting of the Collective.

    13. (Sorry about the multiple posting, when I tried posting it as one comment it disappeared. Do you have a comment-length restriction set on this blog?)

    14. There is absolutely no question that FT retailers are critically important, and without them many producers would not be where they are today. However from our perspective as a producer the Fair Trade compliance in the areas of creating opportunities for the disadvantaged, transparency, capacity building, and sound environmental practices are skewed towards the producers.

      The examples given in the above posts such as engaging in dialogue with customers, photos of the artisans on the walls, information on each product, seminars, advocacy and information activities are activities that any business, Fair Trade or not, would engage in and these would generally grouped under “marketing and networking”. Therefore, many of the activities described above are not unique to Fair Trade.

      However as a Fair Trade producer there are a number of distinct and unique practices that clearly set us apart from other businesses…..we create opportunities for the disadvantaged, we are totally transparent in all of our dealings, we provide capacity building and engage in sound environmental practices.

      We would like to see more Fair Trade retailers do similar….. distinguish themselves from other businesses not in the content of their marketing and networking, but in their actual business practices so that these unique Fair Trade practices are consistent across the entire supply chain.

    15. I have just loved reading all of this. I get so excited about conversations that set thoughts in motion which ultimately, given time bring about change. Change in us, Change for the grass roots producers, change in society, change in the retail sector. Who would have thought 10 years ago that Coles or Woolies would ever stock anything fair trade? The demand is emerging and the awareness is growing and the more it does, the more pressure there is on producers to be transparent and for major players like Coles to provide what we ask for. And I agree that the heroes behind the scenes making it happen and raising the awareness at huge personal cost do deserve some recognition and thanks because the work you are doing is beautiful and honorable and good, Thank you!

    16. Great post again and lovely story from Maryann, I just love this sum-up words:

      "Each person has seeds of education & experience to sow, resources to refresh others or the light of compassion to cheer those in need. There is UNITY in commUNITY, and a self-sustaining mission can truly strengthen a local region...and inspire Change in the Global Economy!"

      Love and peace to you all !!

    17. thank you for this post and God bless you for concern for the craftspwople and small farmers

      as a village jewelry craftswomens cooperative, we have seen our creations taken over by the fair trade wholesalers, who have no consideration of us or our families our our traditions and native artisans

      we have found that the small retailers are good people, it is the fair trade wholesalers (not all) who do wrong by pretending to care about the producers when they are really only interested in making a huge profit

      thank you for the opportunity to speak the truth

      best wishes from Tecalpulco Mexico

      Maria Alaniz

      Artesanas Campesinas

    18. Dear Mitch,
      Thank you for what you are doing. God bless you, and your family.
      We need to have many people like you.

      Fair trade for craftspeople and small farmer, fair trade for ever.
      Best Regards.
      Danielle DO