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Handmade & Fair Trade

"Empowered Women Grow Communities"

UPAVIM’s mission: to support the women of La Esperanza in their fight for better economic, healthcare and educational opportunities for themselves, their families and their community.

What is Fair Trade?

Fair trade is a term many people have heard, but few truly understand what it means. Most people recognize people receiving a fair wage for their work, which is important and a major component of fair trade but there is a lot more to it than just this. It is essentially the practice of benefiting producers in an equitable and fair trading partnership based on dialogue, transparency and respect between artisans or farmers and marketers.

Why Fair Trade?

Our consumer spending choices affect people's lives around the world. The products we buy are often made in conditions that harm workers, communities and the environment. The more consumers demand more humane and environmentally sensitive products, the more they can help change the conditions under which products and food are produced or grown globally.

Does Your Purchase Make a Difference?

You bet it does! Studies have shown that when you empower women economically you grow a community. This is exactly what has happened with UPAVIM and their neighborhood of La Esperanza. A small group of women started UPAVIM over 25 years ago to do something positive for the impoverished slum they were trying to raise children in and from that grew a beacon for the entire community. The women started to produce crafts to generate income for themselves and the projects they wanted to start. Working and selling under Fair Trade principles is what made that happen. They are a self-governed group of approximately 80 women who are able to support their families while providing a school, daycare, health clinic, scholarship and tutoring program, English and after school sciences program, laboratory, local bakery and soy production facility for their community. They have been so successful in their endeavors that other co-operatives around the country go to UPAVIM for advice on modeling their projects after them.

What is the difference between Fair Trade and Free Trade?

Free trade is the movement of goods between countries without government restrictions to improve efficiency. Unfortunately this favors large companies and is disastrous for small artisan producers as well as farmers. It does little to help the poorest people in the world. Countries look to increase market share by lowering costs, wages, safety and environmental regulations among other standards. Fair Trade on the other hand is a model that assists in alleviating poverty and promoting economic justice. It treats producers with respect, paying fair wages, fostering development, and keeping environmental standards.

How do I Identify Fair Trade?

When you see the Fair Trade Federation logo you will know that wholesaler, retailer or producer has been verified by a strict set of standards created by the Fair Trade Federation and are 100% fully committed to Fair Trade practices. There are other certifications for commodities but always look for the logos. Many people and websites will claim to be fair trade but have no understanding of what it really is. Not all products will necessarily have the FTF logo but members will always use it on their websites and printed materials. UPAVIM products state that they are Members of the Fair Trade Federation.

UPAVIM and Fair Trade

  • Creating opportunity for artisans and farmers who live in poverty and lack access to long term well-paying jobs.
  • Develop transparent and accountable relationships with artisans and farmers to ensure they have long term jobs. Fair trade buyers and producers are honest with each other and work together to solve problems.
  • Build capacity of farmers and artisans and their communities by investing time and resources to help producers build their business and improve their communities.
  • Promote Fair Trade by raising awareness about fair trade, educating customers and producers, and inspiring other businesses to adopt fair trade practices.
  • Support safe and empowering working conditions that are healthy and free of discrimination. In these workplaces, producers and employees have a voice in the decisions that affect them most.
  • Ensure the right of children by never using exploitative child labor. FTF members support children's rights to security, education, and play and respect the UN convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Cultivate environmental stewardship by encouraging responsible use of resources and eco-friendly means of production. FTF members reduce, reuse, reclaim, and recycle materials wherever possible.
  • Respect cultural identity of farmers and artisan communities by selling products and using production methods that reflect the history and traditions of artisans and farmers countries.

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