Help Empower and Create New Opportunities for Artisans Worldwide
All across the world, fair trade programs are helping underprivileged people in developing countries by presenting them with new opportunities and empowering them to pursue their dreams and passions.
While people worldwide are receiving help, so is the environment. Fair trade programs promote the importance of being environmentally conscious. Artisans don’t just make your run of the mill gifts, but stylish eco-friendly products.
You might be asking yourself, what does fair trade entail? Fair trade creates equal business options for disadvantaged producers throughout the world. Each individual receives fair prices for goods, a contract providing security, and further education in his/her area of expertise. It also increases sales by helping individuals and families obtain an income, which in turn puts food on the table.
Throughout the U.S., several fair trade organizations exist such as GIANNA. The company assists artisan women originating from India, Laos, Thailand and the Philippines who mainly come from urban slums or rural villages. These women are given a chance to experience what business and commerce are like, while becoming educated and making opportunities for themselves.
According to Gianna Driver, founder and owner of GIANNA, her business is much more than buying and selling products. It’s about helping disadvantaged women realize how valuable they are to society.
Driver has personal experiences that inspired her to create this company. Driver’s mother was a mail-order bride from the Philippines who had a short-lived marriage with her husband. Later on, Driver and her mother moved to a women’s shelter. Because of these struggles, Driver founded GIANNA to save women from harsh conditions and to create better living environments for them.
“I want to help women who are similar to my mother and show them they have opportunities,” Driver said. “These women feel like they don’t have any other options, but I want to make them realize they do have opportunities and don’t have to settle.”
At GIANNA, a variety of eco-fashion products are produced that help preserve culture and the environment through the company’s commitment to helping the planet and its ongoing dedication to creating environmentally friendly products.
These handcrafted, eco-friendly products include scarves, shawls and home accessories made with organic materials and natural dyes. Ancient designs and handcrafted traditions are incorporated into each product allowing each piece to tell its story.
The women come up with their own designs and express how much they learn about family motifs, Driver noted.
“It’s really fun to see them come alive and learn about their history,” Driver said. “These are the sorts of things and crafts that businesses like ours keep alive.”
Another unique fair trade company is UrthBags, which sells eco-chic purses, handbags and totes. These stylish bags are handcrafted by fair trade women’s organizations and artisans using recycled and biodegradable materials. As UrthBags says, these are “purses made with purpose.” The company creates a variety of bags from recycled juice boxes, magazines, sea shells, newspapers and telephone books.
Karma Market is another fair trade organization that helps artisans earn an income and work their way out of poverty. Some of Karma Market’s artisans come from Cambodia, Guatemala and Chile, along with many other third world countries. These artisans design handmade eco-friendly gifts like jewelry, belts, and cards. All of the goods come from companies who support disadvantaged artisans. Karma is further devoted to promoting awareness for fair trades and trying to make the products more easily accessible worldwide.
“Fair trade organizations are so much more than trade,” Driver said. “The idea is not to maintain the status quo, but to improve the status quo.”
To learn more about fair trade organizations or to see how you can help, check out the Fair Trade Federation.