Fair Trade: What does it Mean, and does it Matter?

We hear a lot about fair trade these days and indeed many of the Business as Mission (BAM) businesses that IBEC serves are members of a fair-trade association.  The whole topic can be confusing as there are many organizations that claim a fair trade standard but in reality they do not following the principles of true fair trade, or they may not be certified.

While we support fair trade, following fair trade principles alone does not necessarily make a business a BAM business, because a BAM business must be committed to the spiritual Jesus-follower component of a true BAM business.  We believe that kingdom businesses must follow the highest standards of the world, while at the same time the highest standards of the kingdom of God.  Fair Trade matters and Business as Mission (BAM) matters.

I recently noted reference to fair trade in a business which IBEC is serving – Oasis Coffins in Bangladesh.  This UK company is missional in its focus, and also follows the principles of fair trade; creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers, transparency and accountability, payment of a fair price, no child labor or forced labor, long-term trading relations, gender equity and women’s economic empowerment, freedom of association, good working conditions, capacity-building, and respect for the environment are the principles of Fair Trade that organizations follow; not only for their business but for all parts of the supply chain.

Click here to learn more about what makes a company “Fair Trade.” There are ten easy to remember principles from the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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