World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO)

Fair Trade is the idea that when we engage in free trade, we do it in such a way that the person behind the product is empowered rather than exploited. Fair trade began in Europe more than 40 years ago and was built originally more as a charitable model rather than a profit-making endeavour. The basic principles of fair trade include paying a fair wage in the local context, ensuring safe working conditions, building long-term business relationships, providing market feedback and business development support and ultimately, maintaining transparent business practices. The idea of Fair Trade was first introduced to the United States through the commodities market with fair trade certified foods like coffee, sugar, rice and bananas.

In other categories such as handcrafts, furniture or textiles, there is currently no product-level certification available. The main reason it becomes more challenging to track individual handcrafts (as opposed to a pound of coffee) is because the majority of fair trade handcrafts - things like scarves, jewellery and small gifts - are made in the informal economy, the part of the economy that has no governmental oversight to prevent exploitation. For example, in the United States, when a neighbourhood teenager is paid to mow the lawn, they don't really have any power if they aren't treated fairly. In the rest of the world, the informal economy tends to be a much larger portion of the total GDP within a country, and globally, women make up 60-80 percent of this informal economy. Not only does fair trade provide employment for these women, but these same women tend to invest their increased earnings in their children's education and nutrition. Studies have shown that as income increases, there are many quantifiable positive social impacts such as decreased infant mortality, longer life expectancy and lower health care costs. This is ultimately why creating improvements in this sector can have tremendous overall impacts on the poorest segments of a developing country.

So how does this complex global trade issue become transformed into a profitable business?

(1) working with artisan closely to know their needs and educating them to understand the Fair Trade business.

(2) preparing them for fair trade business.

(3) marketing their products to the organisations with similar objectives.

(4) transparency to your clients and showing them what you say is true.

(5) invest profit in welfare of artisan and community.

Fair Trade has different definitions and understandings but the common objective is that the grass root artisans or growers must get the right wages to support their families well & maintaining the acceptable working conditions. Now the question arise what are the right wages and acceptable working conditions and these are the most controversial subjects. For this the consumer will have to understand the cultural, religious & social aspects of the different countries & also the % of work being done by an artisan for fair trade buyer. Sustainability is the key factor in Fair Trading and Buyer as well as Supplier Organization should be responsible for it because if there is no regular work for an artisan, he will work at any cost because he has to run his family. We can talk and talk on this issue for months or years but the key to Fair Trade is Sustainability or Regular work.


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