Posts tagged ‘Bolivia’

Fair Trade Fair Mined Gold

We (meaning Vipa Designs) had a great meeting yesterday with Victoria from the Fair Trade Foundation and Daniel from the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM).

A bit of background: the Fair Trade Foundation is the UK arm of FLO-CERT. Here’s how FLO-CERT describes itself; “FLO-CERT GmbH is an independent International Certification company offering Fairtrade Certification services to clients in more than 70 countries. We assist in the socio-economic Development of producers in the Global South and help to foster long-term relationships and good practice with traders of Certified Fairtrade products. Our Certification provides a guarantee to consumers of Certified Fairtrade products that they are contributing to the Social-Economic Development of people through their purchases.

What does that all mean? Well essentially, FLO-CERT and its country-based partners like the Fair Trade Foundation in the UK and Fair Trade USA (formerly TransFair USA) are responsible for all the certified fair trade products that we see on the shelves with logos like these….

So typically, when there is a groundswell to certify a new commodity or product, an application for certification will be made to FLO-CERT or one of its partners. They will certify that fair trade standards are being met at the producer group itself and in how the product is brought to market.

The jewellery market (gold and diamonds in particular) have been under the scrutiny of socially responsible organizations and conscious consumers for some time now. Efforts have been made at times to clean up the act of a pretty much unregulated industry; blood-free diamonds is one example. Real progress was made this year when the Fair Trade Foundation and the Alliance for Responsible Mining announced a joint initiative – Fair Trade Fair Mined Gold. Unlike other certifications, FLO-CERT had felt the need to incorporate a partner with industry-specific experience – hence the involvement of ARM.

Here’s a little about ARM: “The Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) is an independent, global-scale, pioneering initiative established in 2004 to enhance equity and wellbeing in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) communities through improved social, environmental and labour practices, good governance and the implementation of ecosystem restoration practices. ARM is committed to social justice and environmental responsibility as the values driving the transformation of ASM.” In practice, ARM works very closely with the mining communities to organize themselves, to improve their working practices and to use their mining revenues to improve their collective well being.

It was great today to hear how these groups have worked together (and continue to do so) to enable artisan mining communities to transform their standard of life. As we have found in other areas of fair trade, the struggle is huge, and the learning curve that these communities go through is enormous. What is so uplifting is how they tackle that challenge, usually beyond expectations.

We learned a lot about capabilities, levels of production, and the different scales of operation in (mainly) Peru and Bolivia. We ended the session having crystallized a number of concrete opportunities for all sides to explore and that real sense of satisfaction and achievement that goes hand-in-hand with involvement in fair trade at any level.

We’ll blog later about the mines and the miners, and about our specific projects.

September 11, 2011 at 15:57 Leave a comment

Have you made a Kiva loan yet?

We just got another repayment from our existing Kiva loans, so it was time to make some new loans from the funds we have with Kiva.

We chose two loans, each of $25.

The first ones was to Marie in Peru, who needs a $350 loan to buy sheep. The loan is to be repaid over 8 months. Here’s what Kiva had to say about Marie:

maria nievesMaria Nieves is a very hardworking woman. She is a member of the Punta Sahuacasi Village Bank in the Azangaro Province in the Department of Puno. She is 56-years-old and lives with two children that she is responsible for. She lives in the Punta Sahuacasi Sector of Acochupa, and has a first grade education. Maria has been wokring with Movimiento Manuela Ramos for the past 3 years. She earns her living buying and selling small livestock (sheep). Her first loan was for 300 soles. She would like an additional loan at this time of 1000 soles, with which she plans to buy more livestock to sell at the fairs in her area. Maria Nieves tells us that she really enjoys the meetings because they allow her to share with her fellow members.

The second loan was to the San Nicolas group in Bolivia. They are a community bank seeking to raise $2,900.

san nicolas groupThe “San Nicolás” community bank is comprised of twelve members. Among them there is one man, a locksmith. The San Nicolás community bank members entered their fifth loan cycle. They have met all of the obligations agreed upon in the contract they signed with Agrocapital.  Many of the members work as crafts people. Some of them weave blankets, make macrame, and sell supplies on credit and for cash. Some of the members have fixed stalls in different fairs in El Alto. The most important, and where most of them assemble, is the 16th of July fair. They sell products they make themselves or resell products at low prices. They need a loan to augment their working capital and stock their merchandise. The competition that they have in the sector where they work is open for a good sale because they are far from the center of the city. The women and neighbors prefer to do their marketing in the same zone. Because they rely on daily fairs, it is easier to move their products and get better income. This group is in its fifth loan cycle. The Agrocapital foundation trusts them because they make their payments responsibly and on time.

Have you made a Kiva loan yet? If not, click on the link below……it might not change your life, but it may well change the life of the person you make the loan to.


Kiva - loans that change lives


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May 18, 2009 at 16:16 10 comments


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