Purpose Of Fair Trade

Fair Trade exists to give a chance to small farmers, artisans and workers around the world, so they can also benefit from globalization. This philosophy provides a platform that enables these disadvantaged people to rise above poverty and improve their standard of living.

Beyond fair wages

Fair Trade is much more than just setting a fair price of goods or creating a safe & healthy working environment. Here are some of the benefits that fair trade offers producers to help them develop their communities:

  • Advanced payments or access to credit: wholesalers or retailers who work directly with artisans try to pay them in advance for the products if required. This makes sure the artisans or farmers have money to buy the resources they need to make products or grow crops, and at the same time feed their children, invest in their communities, etc. Small artisans and farmers are also referred to micro-credit companies who will help them get started as well. Either way, it’s a little push that gets artisans and farmers on their feet so they can start making a living.
  • Education: many retailers and wholesalers educate the producers they work with. They give them market and fashion information so that artisans can create functional, trendy goods that will sell in international market. They can also educate them so that farmers and artisans improve their business practices or become more efficient. They help in capacity building & self sustainability of the producers.
  • Development projects: artisans are given help so that they can develop their communities. SETU –The Bridge To Artisans, for example, is trying to provide health insurance to the artisans, install solar panels for electricity in 2 villages, provide aid to underprivileged children & children with special needs and giving scholarships for vocational education, among other projects. These projects give the artisans or farmers a basic level of development that allows them to lead a better lifestyle, and facilitates the arrival of aid and trade.
  • Opportunities for women and minorities: Fair Trade aims to empower everyone without discrimination. This creates an environment where women and minorities can participate in this alternative trading system. This also ensures equal employment opportunities for the disadvantaged & underprivileged people. They then become self-sustainable, decision makers in their communities. This is especially important in the crafts industry, where 70% of producers are women (according to the Fair Trade Federation).

Globalization implies that the world is becoming smaller and more interconnected. It is applied to many subjects: the economy, communications, politics, trade, technology, information, ethics, language, ecology, and many others. When it comes to Fair Trade, though, it mainly revolves around politics, trade and the global economy.

Globalization has been very helpful to people of developed nations such as the US, Canada, Western Europe and Japan. However, people in less fortunate countries do not fare as well. While globalization has opened the doors for different countries to communicate, share ideas and engage in trade that should ultimately develop the world, in many situations it has also opened the door to exploitation. Many third world countries do not have the resources to compete equally with developed nations. In cases like these, the powerful corporations in these nations set up a factory, a plantation or a mine in the poor countries under the pretense that they will pay the workers a salary (which is better than no salary), pay taxes, and improve the local economy. Even though it is true that the people in the poor countries want a job and opportunities, the ones offered by multinational corporations are far from ideal. What ends up happening is that people are overworked and are not compensated for all the sacrifices they make (their health, their family, their dignity). There is nothing the disadvantaged workers, farmers or miners can do, because they have no access to information, education, resources, credit, or many of the other privileges that the corporations from the developed world have ready access to.

It is no one’s fault that this system started, since people were just following the economic theories they knew. However, we are at a point where we realize that this is an unethical way of doing business. That is why people from both developed and developing nations have created the system of Fair Trade. It aims to empower the artisans, farmers and miners with education, access to credit, and information about the markets and communications tools so they can compete in the globalized economy. In the end, Fair Traders hope to create a system where the artisans and farmers become independent and self-sustainable. That is why Fair Trade exists: to create justice, to empower people, to break the poverty cycle, and ultimately so everyone can produce and buy products that are healthy for the people and the planet.