Fair Trade Federation and Social Entrepreneurship
Atacora Essential is now a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation! Although not a certifying organization, FTF is an association of business people who adhere to principles which promote sustainable community development and social justice.
Economic globalization, free trade agreements and the World Trade Orgainzation have in many ways further impoverished people in developing countries by lifting regulations and empowering giant corporations. The Fair Trade movement, spearheaded by FTF and others, is partly a consciencious response to the negative impact of globalization.
Despite abundant, sustainable natural resources and people with valuable skills and the will to work for a better future, many developing countries are locked in poverty and inequality. Aid based development has often failed to respond to actual needs despite pouring enormous sums of money into projects deemed important in some office in Washington or Geneva. A very noticeable effect of aid based development has been to create a dependence on external means and ideas. Especially insidious is the mentality that has become ingrained in the psyche of many people that their future is not in their own hands.
Fair Trade companies are commited to offering unique products from around the world whose producers are paid well. This economic advancement allows access to education, better nutrition and health care. Thus begins the cycle of empowerment. Thankfully, there is a growing number of ethical consumers whose purchases of Fair Trade products help forward this mission.
Fair Trade producers are most often organized in cooperatives, giving them a collective voice to help ensure fair treatment. Similarly, membership in organizations like FTF provides networking opportunities, information sharing and customer contacts to help advance and mainstream Fair Trade. Atacora Essential will be attending the Fair Trade Federation conference in Bellvue, WA from May 21-23, 2012. There will be many interesting and informative presentations by experienced Fair Traders as well as product showcases designed to help participant organizations succeed.
Atacora Essential has always been dedicated to Fair Trade principles. In our home region of the Atacora in Benin, we identified valuable and sustainable natural resources such as Baobab and Neem, that if revalued with greater market access can help to promote a thriving local economy and the ensuing empowerment in the community. We are also building on the Fair Trade model with our Fair Partnership initiative. We have seen that there is a growing market for quality natural products in West Africa as well as in the US and Europe. Our local market operations are designed and operated by the Beninese Atacora team, and there is profit-sharing incentive to increase our community impact beyond wages generated from exports. This can be seen as South-South Fair Trade.Stay tuned...I've got lots more exciting news!