6 Ways Fair Trade Enterprises Foster Transparent & Accountable Relationships

Posted: Fri. Mar 27, 2020

“Fair Trade involves relationships that are open, fair, consistent, and respectful. Members show consideration for both customers and producers by sharing information about the entire trading chain through honest and proactive communication. They create mechanisms to help customers and producers feel actively involved in the trading chain. If problems arise, members work cooperatively with fair trade partners and other organizations to implement solutions.” Fair Trade Federation Principle 2

Learn how six FTF members are uniquely realizing this principle below!

To further their mission of sharing the art form of quilling with broader audiences, Quilling Card launched a new line of Braille greeting cards. They are working with the Perkins School for the Blind to develop readable, yet artistic braille cards.

Quilling, the art of rolling, coiling, and shaping strips of paper to create a cohesive three-dimensional design, has long been admired with both sight and touch. This new line offers an exciting way to celebrate occasions and special moments as well as the accessibility of this ancient art.

The development of this collection, driven by Quilling Card’s co-founder Huong Wolf, involved substantial research, extensive testing, and meticulous designing. Throughout the years, Quilling Card has been passionate about providing equal employment opportunities for people of all abilities. Now, through this collection, they are extending this dedication to accessibility to consumers.

Customers who shop with Fair Trade Winds know what they buy is verified fair trade.

Fair Trade Winds works to equip customers with the ability to find fair trade products and make conscientious choices when shopping elsewhere. Through their “Guide to Fair Trade Labels“, collection of “Fair Trade Myths“, and other resources, they are educating and addressing common misconceptions directly in the marketplace.

As a retailer who interacts with customers every day, they reinforce a unified message and are proactive in growing the fair trade movement in a positive direction.

Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Company commits to “Buying High” and “Selling Low” and believes their innovative model is the answer to today’s coffee pricing crisis. They pay their farmer partners as much as they can, while pricing their coffee as low as they can for consumers.

Dean’s Beans wants consumers of all income levels to participate in socially just trade, not only those with disposable income. They believe people of all economic backgrounds should have access to organic, delicious, high-quality coffee. They do not pay farmer partners based on the international price of coffee but negotiate based on their business needs, countered by what the farmers need. It is a give and take between both parties, but final prices always end up substantially higher than international prices. Dean’s Beans also commits development dollars from their profits to the same farmers. On average, these dollars add an additional 11% annually to the price paid for goods.

Dean’s Beans has been doing this for 26 years, turning a profit and experiencing growth every single year. The strong, long-term trading relationships based on livable wages help grow farmer capacity and provide consistency and stability from year-to-year in farmer communities. Their customer base, both wholesale and retail, is a loyal and diverse group of dedicated Dean’s Beans coffee drinkers who include activists, organic enthusiasts, coffee “snobs,” people on fixed incomes with discerning palates, and many others.

At the heart of the Rover & Kin ethos is the belief that a sustainable business partnership works much like a close knit family, where each member contributes their share and over time the family grows together. There are no intermediaries, just genuine connections between the Rover & Kin staff and artisan partners.

These personal and professional relationships flourish through consistent communication and regular in-person visits that promote mutual accountability. Initially, founder Wen Yan King, lived in India for nearly a decade where she established solid relationships with an amazing network of artisan communities and women’s cooperatives. These artisan networks are the nucleus of the Rover & Kin family. Their work not only supports their own families and communities but also maintains the fair trade partnership founded on trust and transparency.

Their customers are also invited to share in this connection by learning more about the artisans behind their products on their website, blog, and social media. Rover & Kin believes when putting people before profits and collaborating across cultures, truly incredible things can happen.

The Center for Amazon Community Ecology (CACE) partners with artisans from 16 native and campesino communities in the northern Peruvian Amazon to make and market innovative fair trade crafts.

Their programs focus on working together to make new types of products, to plant trees and plants used to make their crafts, and to strengthen the artisans’ organizations. As part of their transparent approach with these communities, each year, CACE tells the artisans how many of their crafts were bought and how many were sold.

Another aspect of this commitment to transparency is discussing the details of pricing. In order to buy as many crafts from the artisans as they can, CACE needs to charge at least four times the price to cover their costs for transporting and marketing the crafts, to allow them to sell crafts to other businesses, and to help pay for the training programs and support they offer in artisan communities. CACE reinvests 20% of their net sales in health, education, and planting trees in these communities. This fair trade approach has helped CACE create strong, long-term relationships with their artisan partners.

In the current advertising climate where greenwashing and fairwashing is the norm, being truly transparent separates the businesses who are working in a just and fair way from those trying to jump on a trend.

The team at MZ goes to great lengths to share every part of their production process with the entire supply chain as part of their commitment to transparency. From creating artisan profiles on their website so the end customer can meet the maker, to detailing the production process in video, to explaining their choices of shipping materials for improved sustainability, they strive to be as open as possible.

MZ also shares ALL of their business information with the artisan team, explaining MZ’s costs, expenses, payments, and processes in great detail. Not only does this increase trust and understanding among the entire MZ team, but contributes to the artisans’ business education, supporting them in growing their own small businesses. MZ also encourages anyone visiting Oaxaca to go meet the weavers in person! They provide the contact information and address for their point of sale in Teotitlan del Valle, so MZ customers and friends can learn (and purchase) directly from the artisans themselves.

To learn more about how fair trade enterprises create opportunities for producers, explore the 250+ FTF member enterprises.

Cover photo by Quilling Card

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