Monday, May 18, 2009

All About the People - Economics I

When Marita first created this blog, I thought “Why have a blog about Fair Trade Marketing on a site targeted at RETAIL customers?” Then I realized, in the Fair Trade movement, we ALL need to “market” Fair Trade because a large percentage of those around us don’t “get” it!

So, dear Retail Customer, most of the posts from Rebecca and I are aimed at giving YOU, our Fair Trade Retail Customer, tools that will make you a successful “cheerleader” (Marketer) for Fair Trade.

Last weekend, Rebecca wrote that you can choose to make a difference. I’m going to pick up on that theme and take it a bit further.

We all know that we’re in the midst of the most serious economic downturn in most of our lifetimes. With sincere apologies to those who are out of work, and those who have seen their savings evaporate, let me suggest that things are much worse in other parts of the world.

There are few people left who were of working age during the Great Depression, so there are few of us who remember what it was like before Unemployment Insurance, FDIC, Social Security, Medicare, and other social “safety nets” that we take for granted in the US.

But in most of the world’s poorest countries, there ARE no “safety nets”. While US newspapers run headlines like “Americans scaling back on vacations”, in other parts of the world the question is whether or not there will be any food today.

Fair Trade helps to address this issue by ensuring that those who work get a living wage for their work. For an organization to achieve (and maintain) Fair Trade certification, it must demonstrate that a process is in place to determine that living wage which will then serve as a “minimum wage” for all its workers.

Does this mean that Fair Trade goods cost more? Perhaps. The goal is to “trade justly”, not to "get mine". And besides, there is actually a “hidden” economic benefit to those of us in the developed world. I’ll delve into that in my next post. Until then - Trade Fair!

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