Give Back Every Day With Fair Trade

Ryan November 6, 2017

Buying Fair Trade can be a daily choice, allowing each of us to make a difference every day.

If you’re interested in Fair Trade, you’re probably interested in making the world a more equitable place. There are so many ways to act on this – donating to charity or aid organizations, contributing time or money to disaster relief, or buying local or certified Fair Trade products. All of these actions can have significant positive impacts in the world today.

The difference between buying Fair Trade and giving money to an aid organization is how the beneficiaries are engaged in the process, as well as how often we make these decisions. Many people donate time or money on a less frequent basis, often in response to a disaster or major event, whereas buying Fair Trade can be a daily choice, allowing each of us to make a difference every day.

Investing in Communities

Fair Trade focuses on providing agency to producers. It empowers farmers and workers to make their own business decisions and gives them the freedom to use the profits as they please. Local producers often have a better sense of what would benefit their community than external actors allocating donations. There is no better advocate for a community than one who lives there and has first hand knowledge of the community’s needs.

Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative in Ghana, whose members co-own Divine Chocolate, use Fair Trade premiums to implement projects that will best benefit their community, working to address access to education, gender equity, environmental sustainability, and other needs. Gladys, a member of the cooperative, talks about how building a well transformed the community, by giving them access to clean water as well as freeing up time so children could attend school and focus on gaining an education.

Workers at Wholesum Harvest used some of their Fair Trade premiums to open a tortilleria in their community.

In addition to giving producers greater control over their own livelihoods, Fair Trade enables producers to invest in their communities to stimulate the economy. This can encourage more sustainable, long-term growth than an influx of donations. For example, workers at Wholesum Harvest in Mexico were able to invest in several ongoing projects in their community, such as building a tortilleria and a grocery store, which in turn created new jobs.

In Argentina, La Riojana Cooperative used some of their premiums to create a micro-credit loan system for workers, keeping money in the community and stimulating the economy. They also offer school programs in partnership with a local university, to teach business skills that help community members invest in the local economy.

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There is no clear cut best way to make a positive difference in the world. Whether donating to charities, volunteering in your community, or calling your government representatives, there are so many ways to effect change. If you’re looking for a way to support long-term, sustainable progress, consider choosing Fair Trade. It’s an accessible, impactful solution that you can act on every day!

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Ryan, Fair Trade Communities Fellow, New England

Ryan Knipple is a political science and French double major with a minor in gender and sexuality studies at Siena College (a Fair Trade college!). They first became involved in Fair Trade after seeing the work that students on campus were doing to support the initiative. As Executive Coordinator of Siena’s Fair Trade movement for the past two years, Ryan has helped sponsor regional conferences, educate students, and build partnerships within the local community. In February 2016, they had the opportunity to visit Guatemala to learn more about Fair Trade cooperatives. After college, they hope to find a job in the nonprofit sector, continuing to promote values of equality and justice.