The future of fairness
Strengthening Farming Communities
As we innovate, we must ensure that cooperatives remain strong and competitive, as they are truly the backbone of the Fair Trade movement. Part of this effort includes the development of innovative new partnerships with global financial institutions, industry partners, NGOs, leading social entrepreneurs and in-country service providers.
One noteworthy program, 'Co-op Link', recognizes the unique role Fair Trade USA can play in linking organizations from all areas of the supply chain to maximize impact for producers. It focuses on increasing market opportunities; improving access to capital; creating programs to improve quality and productivity; and expanding the training available to cooperatives. We have raised $5 million in 2011 alone.
Igniting Consumer Involvement
Since Fair Trade launched 50 years ago, European consumer awareness about Fair Trade has grown to well over 80 percent. Yet in the United States, where the movement is younger, only about 34 percent of consumers are aware of Fair Trade.
Therefore, part of what makes Fair Trade for All so important is the unique opportunity it offers to spread awareness around Fair Trade to far more conscious consumers around the world. By showing American consumers that every purchase matters, that they have the power to change the world through something as simple as a cup of coffee, we can help make responsible shopping the new normal.
The Road Ahead
At the end of the day, these innovations will bring the benefits of Fair Trade to far more farmers and workers; enable more businesses to develop reliable and ethical supply chains; allow more retailers to offer more Fair Trade Certified products; and give consumers a broader selection of quality Fair Trade Certified products from which to choose.
We are proud of the work Fair Trade USA and our partners have accomplished, but as 2 billion people still live on less than $2 USD a day, there is much more to be done. As we move into a new year, Fair Trade USA has chosen to buck the status quo, take a risk, challenge the norm, and go where no organization has gone before to make Fair Trade truly fair for all.
Image credit: Fair Trade USA
Paul Rice is President & CEO of Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade in the United States. Previously, Paul worked for 11 years as a rural development specialist in Nicaragua, where he founded the country's first Fair Trade, organic coffee export cooperative. Paul holds a BA from Yale University and an MBA from Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley . Follow Fair Trade USA on Twitter: @FairTradeUSA