Monthly Archives: August 2009

Who Should Provide the Evidence About How Much of an Impact Fair Trade Makes?

-

by Jeff Goldman

There is often debate about whether Fair Trade is effective, fair, and the best way to empower vulnerable farmers and artisans.  Others argue whether it helps environmental sustainability, or reduces demand for producers’ products.  While such debate is crucial, all sides would have stronger arguments if their cases were made with comprehensive, robust research and data.  Observers are often criticizing one another for having opinions based on theory without evidence, conclusions drawn from anecdotes and not thorough study, and narrow case studies.  So, as Fair Trade continues growing substantially, who should bring the proof?

We have seen glimpses of parts of the answers.  Several academics have written articles, many listed in the online catalog Fair Trade Institute.  A few people have written books on specific situations, like Daniel Jaffee’s Brewing Justice about coffee farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico.  The largest labeling organizations, such as FLO and TransFair USA, publish statistics of how much money has gone to Fair Trade farmers.  Many FT vendors, like Ten Thousand Villages USA, have published stories of how FT has helped their suppliers.

However, all of these glimpses haven’t settled many disputes.  Last year we saw point and counterpoint in Europe from the Adam Smith Institute and Alastair Smith, author of a publication funded by the Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society.  Just last month several Fair Trade advocates wrote letters disagreeing with Jacob Levin’s article in an Indiana Univesity student publication, The Ryder.

Options to carry out the research seem to include Fair Trade businesses, academics, think tanks, labeling or certification organizations, international development agencies, government economists and others.  Since Fair Trade means considerably different things to different people, it would be difficult to study all important definitions and methods.  However, a lot of progress could come from thorough research into one or two widely accepted versions.

In all versions, the stated beneficiaries of FT are the vulnernable farmers and artisans, who certainly can’t be expected to pay for such research.  As for many initiatives that are created to benefit marginalized people, charitable foundations and government agencies, in partnership with interest groups (FT associations, free market outfits), should fund academics to do such work.  If successful, these stakeholders would save us future energy debating the merits of FT, so we can invest it in whatever ways best empower those with few opportunities.  If this suggestion is good, where have they been?

Get to Know the FTRN Business Blog

-

tex-woman-blogby Tex Dworkin

Who I am and what will I be blogging about:

The FTRN Business Blog aims to provide practical advice, encouragement, tools and resources to help those involved in fair trade business succeed. Topics will include marketing & pr tips, current market trends, a business spotlight, and more.

As a seasoned Fair Trader with over ten years of retail buying, e-commerce and hands on experience working with fair trade producers from around the world, I hope to share insights I’ve gained over the years, and advice based on strategies that have proven successful. I am passionate about socially responsible business and am hoping my enthusiasm will come through in the blog posts and resonate with readers.

How you can be involved:

Share your knowledge! There’s a lot Fair Trade business people can learn from each other; best practices, what works and what doesn’t, what types of products sell well, etc. My hope is that with each blog post, readers take part in the conversation by leaving comments with their own suggestions to help fellow Fair Traders succeed. While I’ll be sharing tips and advice, including input from other seasoned fair trade business owners will only contribute to the effectiveness of this blog.

Request content: If there are topics you would like me to address in this blog, do not hesitate to email with requests and I’ll do my best to cover them.

Your time to shine: If you would like to be featured in an upcoming Fair Trade Business Spotlight, drop me a line to inquire. I’ll be specifically looking to feature businesses that have inspiring stories to tell and lessons for others to learn from.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to growing this collaborative blog with your help!

Getting More from your Summer S’mores

-

by Zarah Patriana

Labor Day is right around the corner so that means that the end of summer is nearly upon us.  All summer long, my fellow Fair Traders and I have been taking part in the National S’mores Action and demanding more from our s’mores.

My s’mores event took place right around August 10th, when Hershey’s made the call to celebrate National S’mores Day while using their chocolate.  Celebrate National S’mores Day I did but I used Fair Trade Certified chocolate instead. It was our day to make the call to Hershey’s and the rest of the cocoa industry to step up and do their part in ending poverty and putting a halt on abusive child labor in the cocoa industry.

Look at the action as being a big chocolatey petition, which could be the most delicious political action you might ever take. The goal is to register over 1,500 s’mores this summer to make a statement that we want our chocolate to be Fair Trade Certified.

So, as we countdown and bid farewell to summer grab those graham crackers, marshmallows and Fair Trade Certified chocolate and take action to and help say farewell to child slavery in the chocolate industry.

Does Fair Trade Owe Faith Communities for Past & Current Inspiration?

-

man-working-stool-w-cross-crsBy Jacqueline DeCarlo

As lead blogger for the next few months, I want to offer a warm welcome to this “Spirituality and Fair Trade” blog.  Many thanks to FTRN for devoting space to the question of how faith-based and spiritual motivations are shaping today’s effort to help believers shop their values. With your participation, and a range of voices from the Fair Trade movement, I hope we’ll create a conversation about the role faith plays in this unique marketplace.

But before we explore what’s happening today, I launch this blog with a premise:  The Fair Trade movement has its roots in–and owes much of its formative inspiration to–people of faith.  One of my favorite stories is that of Edna Ruth Byler, a church volunteer in Pennsylvania, who worked with the Mennonite Central Committee (http://mcc.org). As part of their regular duties, Edna Ruth and her husband J.N. took a trip in 1946 to Puerto Rico, where Byler was introduced to impoverished seamstresses improving their skills in sewing classes. When she got home, Edna Ruth began to sell embroidery products to women in local sewing circles.  She returned profits to the Puerto Rican seamstresses to help them work their way out of poverty. Eventually Byler opened a gift shop in the basement of the home she and J.N. shared, and that led the way to the retail chain now known throughout the United States and Canada as Ten Thousand Villages.

As important as it was to help create a successful Fair Trade Organization, Edna Ruth made an even greater contribution by shaping the framework of what Fair Trade is and why.  Finding opportunities to connect disadvantaged and marginalized producers to consumers has become a central principle of Fair Trade.  Other resources on this website can introduce you to the rest of the principles.  My point is that one woman, spurred by her faith and supported by her denomination, helped start a successful movement for economic justice.  We people of faith, then, have an important legacy to uphold.  We can’t take all the credit for Fair Trade’s success, of course.  That wouldn’t be accurate nor would it be appropriate as many faith traditions caution humility!  But as the movement evolves, I think it is important to shine a light on the religious and spiritual motivations some Fair Traders draw from as they work to shape and improve the movement.

In the coming months I will invite several Fair Traders to share this space to relate how their faith shapes their work.  At this point, I’d be interested to learn of particular role models within your faith community. Feel free to comment and uplift an individual or community whose faith results in Fair Trade activism.  Or, chime in if you think my premise is bunk!  Let me know if you think that Fair Trade, being based in the marketplace, should be considered only as a secular endeavor.  Whatever your opinions, I’ll post once a week, but regularly respond to comments you offer.

Photo: A priest in Madagascar explains the features of hand-made furniture.  Photo credit: Jacqueline DeCarlo/CRS.

FTRN Announces 5 Ways to Publicize Your Organization

-

Publicity Opportunities for Partners While Supporting Fair Trade

As FTRN increases consumer awareness of Fair Trade, and facilitates discussion about Fair Trade, we rely on collaborations with partners.  To achieve our organization’s goals, generate income to sustain our programs, and help partners advance their own interests, we are offering several publicity opportunities for you to engage with us.

During this financially challenging year, we wish to help you assess the value of FTRN opportunities compared with others you have.  So, we list all of our current options below, with key details.  Please look over the following opportunities, and let us know if you have questions, interest, or other ideas in working with us.

For further information, please contact Jeff Goldman, Executive Director at info@ftrn.org, or 917-464-5558.

Sponsoring World Fair Trade Day 2010 campaign

$3300 for major sponsors, $825 for regular sponsors

10% off before November 30; final deadline March 30

By starting campaign planning earlier (September), simplifying the messages, and expanding outreach beyond core audiences, we intend to make N. America’s largest FT event even bigger and more effective.  This past May the campaign grew to 456 events, 65,020 participants, and 101 media placements.  You can publicize your organization in print and online, and help shape the campaign messages and activities.

Sponsoring the 5th edition of Conscious Consumer

$2000

Deadline November 30

Over 60,000 booklets have been distributed to date.  Sponsorship includes a customized, branded 1st page for your pre-ordered copies.  Sponsorship also includes publicizing your organization in print and online, getting 200 free booklets, and chances to edit the booklet.  By January 2010, we will update the content, reduce the # of pages from 34 to around 10, and offer complementary Power Point and PDF files to go with the hardcopy of this key document for introducing people to FT.

Scholarships for FT Producers or Students for a Fair Trade Futures Conference

$250 per producer; $100 per student; travel optional

Deadline July 31

For a N. American FT Futures conference of around 750 attendees next September in Boston, you can sponsor the admission fees of students and FT producers (who you may select).  Additional option to sponsor their travel expenses. It will be 5 years since the previous conference, N. America’s largest FT meeting, so this opportunity may not come again soon.  More details coming soon.  Other organizations will sell sponsorship and advertising for the conference itself.

Sponsoring or advertising in the 2010 Fair Trade Calendar

$500 sponsorship; $50 ad

Deadline September 7

We are aiming to print 2,500 calendars initially and if pre-sales exceed that number, more may calendars may be printed in order to meet demand. Sponsors not only receive sole exposure for a whole month, you’ll also gain additional visibility and benefit from calendar outreach and promotional efforts.  Advertisers get your business listed in the “Where to Buy Fair Trade” section of this inaugural first edition printed calendar.

Sponsoring a children’s book about FT (possible)

Estimated:  $2500 major sponsor; $1000 minor sponsor

Deadline tbd

A final draft of this book for elementary school kids should be available by spring 2010.  While we cannot accept sponsorships at this early stage, we want you to be aware of this prospective opportunity.

N. America’s Largest FT Meeting Planned for September 2010 in Boston

-

10 leading FT organizations in N. America are organizing a Fair Trade Futures conference, scheduled for September 10-12, 2010, that will bring together at least 751 current and prospective Fair Trade entrepreneurs, students, academics, interested non-governmental organizations, media representatives, producers, consumers, and activists.  The first such conference, hosted in Chicago in 2005, attracted 750 attendees.

The aims of the upcoming meeting are to have participants:

  • Acquire and build their knowledge base as appropriate to their various roles (i.e. consumer, entrepreneur, student, development professional, etc.)
  • Leave with a clear and inspired understanding of how they can implement and increase their commitment to-and perhaps their passion for– to Fair Trade
  • Pledge to fulfill that commitment to change in large and small ways in their communities.

The organizers have contracted the Fair Trade Federation, and FTRN, to plan and host the event.  Organizers will announce further details soon.  For now, save the date:  September 10-12, 2010!

Cadbury to Launch FT Sales of Flagship Chocolate in 3 Countries

-

Canada, Australia and New Zealand commit to certifying Cadbury Dairy Milk as Fairtrade by early 2010

Combined with Britain and Ireland, the five markets will quadruple Fairtrade benefits for cocoa farmers under Fairtrade terms

Today, Cadbury extends its commitment to Fairtrade by confirming that three more markets are to receive Fairtrade certification for the flagship Cadbury Dairy Milk brand by early 2010.  This move in Canada, Australia and New Zealand will bring the independent FAIRTRADE Mark into millions more homes in five of Cadbury’s key chocolate markets.

Read Cadbury’s full press release.

Forbes Magazine Publishes Feature on Ten Thousand Villages

-

In the September 7, 2009, issue of Forbes Magazine, FT pioneer Ten Thousand Villages and its store in Center City Philadelphia are reported on.  The article says that “Ten Thousand Villages has mastered the art of nurturing affluent customers as well as impoverished craftsmen.”  Check out the full story at:  http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2009/0907/creative-giving-ten-thousand-villages-grows-with-fair-trade.html

12 Winning Photos Announced in 1st FT Calendar Photo Contest

-

beads-to-bricks-at-beadforlife-calendar-winnerWe, on the Fair Trade Calendar Committee are pleased to announce the winners of the first annual Fair Trade Photo Competition conducted by Fair Trade Federation and Fair Trade Resource Network. From the 60+ photos submitted and the thousands of votes cast on Competico.com, producer groups, student activists, and a wide array of fair trade supporters participated over the three week competition. While anyone could vote, photo entries were restricted to students, activists, wholesalers, retailers and others who had a direct affiliation with FTF, FTRN TransFair or WFTO.

The 12 photos with the most votes will each appear as a monthly photo in the inaugural edition of the Fair Trade Calendar, and smaller versions of other photo contest submissions will also appear throughout the calendar. The 2010 Fair Trade Calendar will be printed on environmentally friendly New Leaf paper by Consolidated Printing and designed by worker-owned collective Design Action.

And…without further adieu, the winners are…(drum roll please…)

1. “Beads to Bricks” Bead for Life

2. “Weaver” Equal Exchange

3. “Ghanaian Seamstresses” Village Exchange International

4. ‘Intense Focus” Indego Africa

5. “Hands of “Indego Africa

6.”Master Trainer of Poda Pakistan” Global Goods Partners

7. “Yauli Knitter” Partners for Justice

8. “Beautiful Hands in Guatemala” Shanti Boutique

9. “Coffee Producer” Equal Exchange

10. “Two Women Beading Necklaces” Dunitz Co

11. “Beading at Lake Atitlan” Dunitz Co

12. “Pierre Youpa With His Papaya Tree” Partners for Just Trade

View the photos on Facebook.

Calendars will be available for sale at retail and wholesale rates on http://www.fairtraderesource.org/learn-up/buy-ftrn-publications/ in early September.

To place an ad or sponsor the calendar, contact FTRN before September 8.

For further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact any one of us on the calendar committee:

Fair Trade Calendar Committee

Tex Dworkin (tex@globalexchange.org) or Cecilia Dinio Durkin (admin@womensworkbw.com)

Equal Exchange Starts Offering FT Bananas

-

In late July, EE FT bananas came to store shelves, trying to compete with 5 companies that sell 96% of the non-FT bananas bought in the U.S.  EE became part owner of the first FT banana company in the United States, Oké USA.  EE wanted to offer consumers a choice within FT besides Dole’s FT certified brand.  See more reasons at Equal Exchange’s blog.