“A bond with customers based on shared values is the strongest bond you’ll ever make,” stressed Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s and currently working with Stamp Stampede, a venture dedicated to getting the money out of politics.
Sitting in the room with over 280 other fair traders at the Fair Trade Federation Conference in Burlington, Vermont last week, I almost stood up and shouted “AMEN.”
Renee Bowers, Fair Trade Federation Executive Director, opened that morning sessions reminding us that “as fair traders, we work to give voice” to those who otherwise would not have as loud of a voice in the world.
And in this week where we celebrate World Fair Trade Day, I want to say thank you to our customers who are using their economic dollar to vote for the change they wish to see in the world.
This morning Christine Gent and Elise Hawley from the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) Asia office in Chiang Mai, Thailand came to visit us at Bunyaad. Christine and Elise are in Pakistan to visit the one WFTO member in Pakistan (Habitat Integrated Pakistan (HIP)) and to possibly recruit new members.
In the past, Christine has done product design and development work for Ten Thousand Villages in Haiti and Sri Lanka. She contacted us via her Villages connection hoping to find potential new WFTO members in Pakistan. We explained Bunyaad’s work to Christine and Elise and showed them around the building.
Let Me Introduce: Arshad
Arshad, usually called by her nickname Bebe, and her family live in the village of Darianwala located approximately six miles from the Indian border in Northeast Pakistan.
Arshad and her husband Mustaq have been working for Bunyaad for the past five years (since 2009). Prior to joining Bunyaad the family had been drifting from place to place in hopes of finding work that would support the entire family. As a woman working outside the home would not have been acceptable for Arshad and so the challenge of providing for the entire family rested on Mustaq’s shoulders.
How does a family in rural Pakistan make ends meet when jobs are scarce and mostly seasonal?
Bunyaad staff Jenni, Yousaf and Doug with four-year-old sidekick Nouraiz joined 250 other fair traders for the annual Fair Trade Federation Conference (FTF) in Del Mar, California from March 24-26. Since Bunyaad just joined the FTF a few weeks ago, this was our first FTF conference. Del Mar is just a short drive north of San Diego so we enjoyed the bonus of warm, sunny weather in addition to meeting many new fair trade friends.
Before the conference meetings started, we were treated to a very informative and entertaining tour of the Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap factory. Dr. Bronner’s has committed to sourcing fair trade and organic ingredients for all of its products and has an exemplary record of commitment to fair labor practices and protection of the environment. All of the employees we met spoke glowingly about the company. It was obvious that they enjoy working at Dr. Bronner’s. Before we left, a number of tour members got to hose down one of the Dr. Bronner’s employees with Magic Soap suds – one of the fun extra-circular activities used by Dr. Bronner’s to generate publicity. Dr. Bronner’s is a member of the FTF and the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), and, since their annual sales are approaching $100 million, they are one of the largest members.
We are thrilled to be approved as the newest Fair Trade Federation (FTF) member this week.
Bunyaad is the first fair trade rug business to join the FTF. The FTF is the trade association that strengthens and promotes North American organizations fully committed to fair trade. Bunyaad is proud to be included with the more than 240 FTF members who have one primary purpose: to support artisans and farmers in developing countries through the practice of fair trade. Fair trade guides each and every trading decision that FTF members make – just like Bunyaad has always operated, right from the beginning.
Thanks to stellar work by Bunyaad staffer Doug Horst, we sailed through the FTF application process and easily qualified for membership. The FTF family includes a number of other highly respected fair traders in Canada and the USA like: