April 10, 2013
Ever hear of the saying “give a man to fish and he’ll eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime?”
What if we take this fish analogy and apply it to three words we hear often in the non-profit world – relief, development, and sustainability? It might look something like this: “Relief is giving a starving community free fish; development is teaching a community how to fish; and sustainable development is building an ongoing economy that can purchase those fish. It is sustainable development that will empower that community over time.”
And that’s exactly what Trade as One does. We use a business and enterprise approach to poverty alleviation by selling products that we need to create jobs. This is not a charity model, and this is not about giving a percentage off of people’s profits and donating it. This is using straight and pure market mechanism to create jobs for the poor by making small adjustments to the sorts of things that we consume. Because the poor don’t want handouts, they want jobs– and what better way to do that than through food?
In order to do this, we partner with producers from around the world to bring you fair trade products. There’s Alaffia, who works with local communities in Togo, West Africa and provides them with employment, and training. They also invest in community health and education initiatives while supporting environmentally sustainable practices.
A Trade as One favorite is Divine Chocolate. In the early 1990s a group of farmers frustrated with being cheated, pooled their resources and formed the Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative. They based their cooperative on the fair trade principles, transparency, efficiency and equality for women. In 1998, they formed a publicly traded company, now Divine Chocolate, so that they could directly market their work to the rest of the world. The farmers of Kuapa Kokoo own nearly half of the company, hold seats on the board, and host yearly board meetings in Ghana.
And then there’s Alter Eco, who since 1999 has sourced and sold a variety of different foodstuffs of exceptional quality from around the globe, including Thailand, The Philippines, and Bolivia. They are committed to facilitating the development of independent producers as well as distributors, while ensuring good working conditions for all workers. Their ethical practice in all levels of farm to table production has gained national attention, and both Alter Eco and Divine Chocolate have landed on The Better World Shopping Guide’s Top Twenty list for their overall social and environmental record.
And those are just three of our producers! We purchase products from over ten companies and offer them in our fair trade food subscription program, where we bring you food from around the world straight to your doorstep. The products in the subscription box give dignified jobs to some of the most marginalized and poorest people in the world. In return, those jobs bring to them a living wage, so that can do all the things that we would expect to do with our wages, like feed their family, educate their kids, and provide health care.
This is the future of fair trade– where eating fair trade becomes ingrained in your lifestyle with the regular food shipments every three months, and you aren’t left wondering what or where to buy these products because we search, taste, and curate the box for you. As famous food author, Michael Pollan says “The wonderful thing about food is you get three votes a day. Every one of them has the potential to change the world.” And we couldn’t agree more. So from around the world and straight to your door, Trade as One’s subscription is the future of fair trade.