When I mention my involvement in Fair Trade I often experience the same response: “Oh, you mean those products made without child labour!” “Yes” I will reply, “that’s one aspect of Fair Trade, however it’s not just that, it’s about so much more”.
What generally follows is an enthusiastic mini-lesson about the Fair Trade world and the ten Fair Trade Principles on which it is founded. These principles range from payment of fair prices, to creating opportunities for disadvantaged producers and operating with respect for the environment.
There are many exciting aspects of Fair Trade to learn about, but for the purpose of this blog let’s focus on Fair Trade Principle Three: Fair Trade Practices, and discover: What does it take to Practice Trade Fairly?
A key part of Joy’s work is building sustainable and long-term relationships with her suppliers. Joy periodically visits Cambodia, where she loves meeting her partners face to face. Joy knows that her visits help to create strong connections with her producer partners, based on profound trust and mutual respect. This fits well with a component of Fair Trade Principle Three, which encourages development and maintenance of connections in order to deepen the knowledge of the local community and its culture.
Connections are not limited to trading operations, but also provide additional benefits to the suppliers. Joy collaborates with Watthan Artisans Cambodia, a cooperative of artisans who have disabilities caused by landmine injuries and polio. This cooperative provides assistance and employment opportunities to its artisans and their families. Without any welfare support from the government, WAC is the only means these people have by which to earn a sustainable income.
Joy’s support of disadvantaged people doesn’t stop there. To financially assist the producers with production costs, Joyful Fair pays in advance for 50% of the order. The remaining 50% is paid in full when the goods are received. Moreover, Joy collaborates with her suppliers when making trade and pricing decisions.
Fair Trade recognises and protects cultural identity and traditional skills of small producers in their craft designs. In Cambodia, exporting mass produced products at low costs is for many people the only way to fight poverty. Consequently producers may sacrifice quality and tradition in their handcrafts. Joyful Fair works to preserve tradition and quality, by looking for products that are marketable overseas yet represent Cambodian culture. Through passionate research of new materials and local products, Joyful Fair aims at enlarging its market in Australia, thereby increasing the returns for its Cambodian partners and promoting the growth of the Fair Trade Movement in both countries.
For more information about Joyful Fair and its Fair Trade business practices, visit: www.joyfulfair.com.au and www.watthanartisans.org
* An intern with the Fair Trade Association