Recently, Jeremy Piercy founder of Shared Earth decided to offer his business as a franchise package. In this article he explains why Fair Trade is so important and why consumers everywhere are making the choice more and more often to buy Fair Trade Products.
Fair Trade is a way of making sure that the goods we buy have a positive effect on the world around us. The main aim of multinational companies is to maximise profit, and generally in the past they haven’t been too concerned about how they make it. There are still millions of children in the world who work long hours in sweatshops, and millions of people working in unsafe, unhygienic conditions to earn a wage which is insufficient to feed their families.
In Britain, laws were passed in the 19th century to make slavery, child labour and other abhorrent practices illegal. Large companies have realised they can transfer production to countries where such laws don’t exist, or where local officials can be bribed to ignore malpractice. Multinationals have enormous power – often more power than the governments of the countries they buy from. All we see is the colourful goods in our shops. How they’re made is hidden away, often on the other side of the world.
The Fair Trade movement is making the multinationals sit up and take notice! Millions of people are realising that there is more to life than just money and material possessions. They are starting to care about where the products they buy come from, whether people are being exploited in the process and whether they’re damaging the environment unnecessarily. Consumers are saying, “We have power too!”
Fair Trade ensures that producers are paid reasonable prices for their work; child labour is avoided; working conditions are decent and sustainable materials are used wherever possible. Fair Trade companies also pay sufficiently upfront on their orders so as to ensure that producers don’t end up in the hands of unscrupulous moneylenders. This often happens because the producers just cannot afford to buy the raw materials for production, or the seeds to plant the next year’s crops.
Fair Trade tries to help those at the bottom of society, those who are least well off – such as the disabled. It also tries to support communities, not just individuals, by refusing to bargain producers down to the lowest price. Fair Trade companies often enable enough profit to be made to pay for wells (fresh water), schools or the development of other community projects.
Sales of Fair Trade products are increasing substantially in all areas. And the reason for this? It has nothing to do with price. It’s simply that people like to feel they’re making the world a better place.
Written by Jeremy Piercy, Fair Trade pioneer and founder of Shared Earth.
For more information on Shared Earth go to http://ishouldcoco.wpengine.com/portfolio/ to read the case study or visit www.sharedearth.co.uk