It's all about creating a better world. As simple as that. A world where economy works for most people, not against.
However this candid statement of mine, you may want to read this more formal definition, stated by F.I.N.E. and commonly taken as the best.
|Poster from Oxfam. Photo by Lai Hiu|
To put it shortly, Fair Trade looks for poverty alleviation and works through three main actors: producers located on impoverished countries (globally called "South"), organizations that trade, support and usually certify the products and... we customers who recognize those products and buy them. More about this here.
Fair Trade organizations seek to establish a long term relationship with producers. This helps eliminate the uncertainty they usually suffer, either due to lack of access to market information, to erratic prices or to plain abuses from prey middlemen. In this collaborative frame, trading NGOs also provide upfront payment or financing for harvest costs and technical advice for organic farming, for example.
Apart from that, Fair traders help their providers when disaster strikes; think about hurricanes in Central America, which can devastate large areas of coffee plantations.
It takes several criteria to certify a product as a Fairtrade one; they include specific quality standards and general requirements like child labor control, gender equity, democratic organization and respect for Nature. This, in turn, renders nice environmental benefits for mother Earth.
Once a supporting NGO has checked that criteria are in place, they back the product; some of those products may be marked with a label. Producers start receiving a higher price for their goods... and also a Premium: an extra amount of money intended for community development purposes.
This way, producers get a wage which is enough for a decent living, community development becomes possible and we consumers can rest assured (by the certifiers) that we are buying a product whith no exploitation trail behind.
This is the big picture of Fair Trade: a beautifully designed economic system, intended to serve and respect the interests of the less favored, often overlooked.
You can join now this most worthwhile initiative... start by having a look around this website . Maybe you are interested in some Fair Trade facts; if so, I have collected some of them for you; they may help clarify what is Fair Trade!
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