Often I have found that people confuse the terms ‘free trade’ and ‘Fair Trade’ and use them interchangeably, so here is a little clarification into Fair Trade– because there is a big difference. Think of free trade as agreements between governments, between countries; but think of Fair Trade as a pact between Fair Trade organizations or Fair Trade businesses and producer/artisan groups. Fair Trade is a fair and just relationship that benefits the producer or maker of a product. Education And More is a Fair Trade organization and the benefit to the artisan is the primary concern in all our dealings with our artisan groups.
First a little story example: You are an artisan and make baskets to sell in order to earn money to help support your family and so you can send your children to school. You work hard to gather the reeds and weave them into baskets. You found that “some people” want to buy them but they don’t want to pay your price- a price that you feel is reasonable. You know you must sell them, but for the price that “some people” want to pay you won’t earn enough to support your family nor send your children to school and perhaps you won’t even have enough for expenses. But what are you going to do? You must sell some to get some money, no matter how little the money amounts to because your children need to eat today. However, there is a Fair Trade organization that is interested in buying your baskets and working with you under Fair Trade guidelines. By working with this organization you will be able to earn a living wage, a fair daily wage for your work. You don’t really understand the reluctance of “some people” to pay enough for your basket so that you can meet expenses and earn a fair wage. You are very thankful for the Fair Trade organization and hope more people purchase your items through the organization so that you can earn a living.
What is a ‘living wage’ or Fair Trade price? Prices paid to the producer or maker of a product take into account the minimum daily wage in the local area of the artisan/producer. Guatemala’s National minimum daily wage for the rural area is $6.12 a day and their non-poverty wage is calculated at $7.55 a day. This is according to World of Good Fair Wage Calculator.
Some people want to buy stuff as cheap as possible and don’t think of the grower/producer. Some people reason that they can buy more stuff if they buy it cheaply and think nothing is wrong with that idea.. The cheaper the better and the more we can purchase. But when you begin to see life from the producer side you begin to understand Fair Trade better. Fair Trade is just that – being fair – being just. There are thousands of Fair Trade products around the world – read labels and search the internet to make yourself more informed. If everyone would purchase 1 – 2 Fair Trade items a week can you imagine the impact it would make on the artisans around the world or the impact it would make on the poverty of the world?
When buying coffee-think Fair Trade coffee. When you need a gift for someone – think Fair Trade gifts and search the internet for Fair Trade organizations. Learn more, read more.
Remember the bargain you received is only made possible by the low wages that the producer receives.