Fair Trade is a means to develop producers’ independence. Members maintain long-term relationships based on solidarity, trust, and mutual respect, so that producers can improve their skills and their access to markets. Members help producers to build capacity through proactive communication, financial and technical assistance, market information, and dialogue. They seek to share lessons learned, to spread best practices, and to strengthen the connections between communities, including among producer groups.
SERRV, a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides, recently launched two new capacity building projects to develop producers’ independence.
Through its Africa Capacity Building Project, SERRV works on the ground to connect producers directly to other developmental organizations and resources in the area. In Ghana, this project connected bolga basket weavers with Trade Aid Integrated for a train-the-trainers program. The best basket weavers have now passed on the skills and techniques they learned from SERRV to 240 rural basket makers in their area.
In Cambodia, artisans with VillageWorks previously paid an outside company to screen print fabric for their bags and scarves. SERRV worked with the group to demonstrate that the process was one the artisans could master, allowing them to not only create jobs and save money, but also to expand their skills and build confidence. VillageWorks now has its own printing workshop that uses SERRV-funded equipment to reach more artisans.
In 2009, SERRV also developed ArtisanWork.org as a place for artisans to learn, explore, and connect around issues important to their work. The site also includes discussion groups with fellow artisans and experts around the world to facilitate an exchange of best practices.
To learn more about their work in Principle 3 and all the Principles, visit Serrv.org
Example: Handmade Expressions
Established in 2006, Handmade Expressions distributes fair trade products to over 1,000 retail partners in the United States and works thousands of artisans in rural India to empower communities and build capacity.
Handmade Expressions supports education and community development projects to improve services such as healthcare and education in rural areas. In 2010, the organization donated $6,000 towards multiple health camps and eye check-ups for Indian artisans. By working with a team of artisans, they help also build capabilities in environmentally-sustainable practices, such as the use of local, recycled, reused, and natural materials. They also contributed $6,000 towards solar panels and lights in remote villages in India.
By creating self-sustainable employment that follows fair trade practices, Handmade Expressions is able to support disadvantaged artisans while improving economic sustainability.
To learn more about Handmade Expressions, visit www.handmadeexpressions.net