June 15, 2014
AlterNatives is a direct trade organization that utilizes the market to fund social change programming to increase the resilience of Indigneous communities.
Twenty years ago, people engaged in the Fair Trade movement viewed it as a means for empowering developing world producers to gain access to opportunity. The United Nations Development Program defines poverty as the inability to access opportunity. Poverty in much of the developing world is a result of a historical colonial process that fostered dependency and marginalized entire populations.
Today, there is a growing number of "social entreprenuers" utlizing the words of fair trade for marketing purposes. The point of Fair Trade was to eliminate intermedieres and empower producers to gain direct access to markets. These days, young people with good web skills travel to the developing world, copy native designes and hire artisans as wage labores producing their lines. A number of large "fair trade" organizations have arrived that purchase crafts from local markets and promote these items as qualifiying for the term.
In Guatemala, many producers that survived decades of civil war are now selling Chinese made cloths in the local markets because they've been pushed out by the a new generation of "fair traders" that are doing little but perpetuating colonail models of social relations. Rather then making things better, they've actually driven down the return for weavers and increased the challenges for gaining access to market.
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