Fair Trade Federation. We've been doing business the same way...since 1990. We joined FTF in 2008 and we continue to live by the Fair Trade Federation Principles. From time to time, I would like to comment on the various principles. Today, I wanted to pay tribute to Principle #3 - or "Building Capacity." FTF defines this as:
Fair Trade is a means to develop producers’ independence. Members
maintain long-term relationships based on solidarity, trust, and mutual
respect, so that producers can improve their skills and their access to
markets. Members help producers to build capacity through proactive
communication, financial and technical assistance, market information,
and dialogue. They seek to share lessons learned, to spread best
practices, and to strengthen the connections between communities,
including among producer groups.
Bravo and well said for those of us that continue to work in the same communities for many years. I believe building capacity and "sustainability" works in all directions. It isn't always about the workers - although this is what many fair traders focus on when speaking about their businesses and community. Loyalty works in all directions. By working with the same beading community for nearly 25 years, I have found this community to be loyal (and loving) to me. Together we've been able to develop and improve our quality, designs & distribution. The truth is this community sustains me just as much as I sustain them. Working this way is never a 'one shot' deal. It is consistent, solid, nurturing and yes, sustaining for all.
I have been developing similar relationships (albeit younger) with artisans in Guatemala creating the Joanie M fused glass line and in Peru with our leather flowers. Both these projects are about three years old. It is amazing how working with FTF Principles solidifies my relationships with the artisans I work with. I know I take good care of the folks I work with. But, honestly, I think they might take better care of me :)! - ND