Fair Trade

12232739881780893What is Fair Trade and what are its benefits? :

Fair trade is when a buyer promises to pay a producer a price for their products that are above the price a producer would get in a normal open or free trade market.  A buyer will buy a fair trade product depending on their need for the product, sustainability of the organization making the product, and well defined community goals that will receive some profit from fair trade sales.


Benefits of fair trade include:

  • Partnerships with buyers who want to benefit you and your entire community.
  • The ability to run operations that will sustain your community and its projec
  • An increase in personal and community well-being for the long-term.

Steps to becoming a successful fair trade artisan:

Now that you have decided that you have a product that needs to get out into the global fair trade market, there are key steps that must be taken before trading and selling.  This brochure will provide you with the steps in order to build a foundation that will sustain your operation.


Step 1: Evaluate Your Product:

Have a meeting with the members of your community and discuss the following topics:

  • Figure out the cost of one of your products.  How much would it cost your community to make 1, 10, 50, or 100 of the product?  This will help you evaluate if you have enough resources to sustain your project.
  • What products are you trying to sell?  Do we have reliable sources for materials to make the product? – If you can only make a limited amount the buyer may not be interested.  Also look into how you can make your product have variety, and other potential products that can be made from your resources.
  • Is your product up to the quality that buyers are looking for?  If not, how can you change that?
  • How will the community benefit from fair trade, and how will we communicate this to our buyer?  Also, how will we measure how the community is benefiting?
  • How are we going to run our packing and shipping, so that it has the lowest possible cost to our buyers?
  • Do you have access to internet and a digital camera so you can put images of your product on the web, and contact buyers through email?


Step 2: Make Contacts:  

12232739891971047This is one of the most important ways to give life to your organization.  Send members of your community out to look for the following groups and send some to use the internet to look at the following groups:

·         Neighboring Co-op groups that have established fair trade buyers.

·         Non-profit groups that aid artisans either through economic, training, or marketing support include the following groups: Aid to Artisans, Shared Interest, IFAT, Traidcraft UK, IDEAS-Spain, and Ten Thousand Villages are some examples.  These groups will also provide information about fair trade fairs and training sessions, and all can be found on the internet.

·         With IFAT- International Federation for Alternative Trade- it’s important to obtain membership in this organization because it will connect you to hundreds of fair trade buyers.  The link for membership requirements is http://www.ifat.org/whocanapply.shtml.  Even if you cannot meet all the requirements let IFAT know your interest in joining.

·         Good contacts to make regarding funding and training to start your project are Shared Interest, Oxfam, The Crafts Center at CHF, SERV, Tides Foundation, Traidcraft, and Aid to Artisans.


       Step 3: Creating an organized community:

1223273990821268Now that you have met with your community and those who are interested in fair trade you need assign roles to community members.  Some of the roles should include:

·         Designated marketing representatives who keep contact with the buyers, who work together to promote your product to your buyers and surrounding communities, who attend informational sessions with non-profit aid groups and who, research new products to make or ways to make your product have variety.

·         A community representative that informs the community of what your project is and who’s buying the product, and can track how the community goals are being met by fair trade while conveying that to the buyers as well.

·         Designated sustainability representatives who research what supplies you will need for now and in the future for your product along with researching effective, low-cost shipping methods.

·         Designated non-profit group representatives who keep contact with the non-profit groups who aid communities like yours, and will keep you posted on trade fairs and informational training sessions.


Now that you read an outline on how to start a sustainable fair trade project remember these key points:

  • A long standing relationship with your buyers is key, so constant communication with your buyer is very important.  This is also means always being honest with your buyer about availability or any delays in them receiving the product.
  • Who are the potential buyers?  Are they legitimately looking to do fair trade?  Make sure that buyer you have selected is interested in doing actual fair trade.
  • Have a good knowledge of pricing your product, pricing it as an export, and the pricing of your shipping.
  • Remember that your community must also benefit from this project.  How will this benefit to the community be measured, and how will these benefits be conveyed to the buyers?              

  Useful Links:

            If you’re curious to where to go from here or to get more fair trade        information visit the following websites:


·        For more information contact Haley Nicholson at haley.nicholson@gmail.com or the Africa Centre at info@africacentre.org

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