Verifying Fair Trade Businesses: Rigorous, Educational, and Valuable for All

Becoming FTF Verified

Applying for Fair Trade Federation membership means undergoing a deep investigation into the fair trade practices incorporated into every aspect of a business. Business owners and employees demonstrate how they build fair trade practices into day-to-day operations and trading relationships. They sometimes need to reevaluate those practices and make adjustments to meet the FTF’s holistic requirements. The FTF acceptance rate hovers around 65%. But when we accept a new member into the FTF community, feedback like the below is common; the screening process is a conscientious, painstaking, and rewarding process.

“They have wanted to apply for years, but just could find the window… I suggested they give the application to me so I could learn about our operations here and overseas quickly since part of my job is to start a strategic planning process.  It was a great project for me.”

“We’ve always thought FTF membership was important for so many reasons, and we will be proud to display that affiliation during our upcoming busy season.”

Ongoing Commitment to Fair Trade Practices

Fair trade businesses change and grow, so verification doesn’t stop with the initial application. Deep annual reviews allow the FTF to stay in touch with members, learn about new projects, and investigate changes in fair trade practices. Every year, FTF members submit updated financial statements and producer/supplier lists along with detailed information about how they meet two of the fair trade principles. In this way, each FTF member undergoes a full rescreening for all nine of the fair trade principles over five years of membership.

The Value of Verification

FTF verification is an important tool for retailers and their customers. Annual reviews and ongoing verification help the FTF respond more quickly to the needs of fair trade businesses and consumers. Fair trade retailers can confidently vet products by ensuring they come from an FTF member business.  (An easy way to check whether a business has been verified is to search for it at fairtradefederation.org/findmembers/.)  FTF members’ commitment to verification allows consumers and other businesses to know this: if a business displays the FTF member logo, it’s meeting some of the highest standards in the fair trade movement. It’s a 360° fair trade business.

Learn more about Fair Trade Federation membership here.

Ann Ferguson (af@fairtradefederation.org) is the Fair Trade Federation’s Membership Manager. She oversees the FTF’s membership application process and annual member reviews, and assists in coordinating events and member programs.