If you read any reports, or simply watch the news, you will see how the world seems to be getting worse and worse every day.
Human trafficking is at an all time high, along with many other issues that can seem extremely overwhelming and create compassion fatigue for those of us who are aware of these overwhelming statistics.
Charitable giving has been one of the main solutions for these types of world issues, and there are many non-profits that we love and support (like the A21 Foundation and Wipe Every Tear) who are doing incredible work to better the world we live in. But if we want to implement long-term solutions, charity is not the solution.
Let me explain.
I remember taking a trip with my church to visit a rural, northern part of Ghana, called Tamale, in 2013. The country was amazing, the people and the culture were absolutely incredible. This is a photo of a few of the amazing kids I got to hang out with there.
photo credit: Selena Morar
The thing that I remember sticking out though, was the fact that the ministry we were going to visit had also started a local business of shea nut harvesting.
All it took was one person to recognize the potential their land held in order to start something that would affect the future of their community. Certain business men and women from the US accompanied us on our trip in order to visit the harvesting site and see how this simple business had largely affected the local economy. I remember wanting so badly to go with them on their portion of the trip. Being that I had no professional business experience yet and was only 17 years old, naturally, they left me to help facilitate the summer camp we were hosting for the local children. But this business idea stuck with me. The locals would harvest the shea nuts, which were then sold to make body butter (lotions) with. I remember hearing of the numerous jobs this simple business model had created. Their local economy was growing because of this idea. It had effectively created a meaningful solution to a very long standing issue of poverty in their area.
Charity is probably how this entire ministry and business were initially funded. And what a worthy cause to give to! Charitable giving can create instant relief for people and has been an incredible solution to immediate need for so many. As seen in this example though, when it comes to long-term solutions, charity is not the answer. That’s why Fairlee Trade & Co. is not a non-profit. I am inspired by what this pastor was able to accomplish. Rather than relying on the help of charitable giving to always run his ministry, he saw the opportunity to create a solution that would last and affect generations to come.
The Fair Trade Movement, the movement that Fairlee Trade & Co. is centered around, is like if you took this small example and made it a global effort.
The Fair Trade Movement is more than charity. It’s all about creating sustainable income for communities that would typically be depending on charity to survive (or worse, being taken advantage of by large factories that prey on the poor for extremely cheap labor). This movement also addresses the consumer side of things and creates solutions for people who care about the greater good and want to use their buying power to make a difference. It calls to action large companies who won’t tell us how their products are being made and if their employees are even being paid at all (i.e. modern day slaves). The Fair Trade Movement is simultaneously creating an impactful shopping experience for you and creating meaningful work for the people making the product.
In order for a product to become Fair Trade Certified, the factory making it has to meet rigorous standards that promote sustainable livelihoods and safe working conditions for their employees. They also have to meet standards for protecting the environment and having transparent supply chains (meaning that just because a shirt was sew by someone who was paid fairly, doesn’t mean that the cotton farmer who grew the cotton that was used to make the shirt’s material was paid fairly… basically everyone has to be accounted for). These basic human rights are something we believe should become the standard for all production lines. The Fair Trade Movement is creating positive changes in the way business do business. At the same time, it is creating crucial product knowledge for you, the consumer. Like who made your clothes, or your jewelry, or shoes, or handbag, etc.
This is what the Fairlee Family is all about! We want you to become a part of this movement.
We aim to support sustainable change for people all over the world, like the pastor's business in northern Ghana. Our goal is to achieve this by creating feasible solutions for someone like you who is looking for products that are made better.
When you shop Fairlee, you can be sure that your purchase is truly making a difference. Your choice to #shopfairtrade can truly change the world.
Thank you for being a part of this movement with us!