Posts tagged ‘fair trade federation’

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

the start of our new chapter

Before getting back to David’s telephone conversation, a couple of  background information “nuggets” might be useful.

Nugget #1

David’s first “proper” job after first graduating from college was with his brother Peter. Peter had earlier launched a jewellery design and manufacturing company called Vipa Designs. Like many other manufacturing businesses, jewellery has changed dramatically in the UK over the past 20 or 30 years. Most of the small to medium manufacturing companies have disappeared, and the bulk of mass manufacturing is now shipped overseas. During that time Vipa has bucked the trend and grown steadily, gaining a reputation for innovative design and high quality manufacturing whether for one-off pieces or for larger quantities.

Nugget #2

Before opening Global Fayre, we had no idea of just how complex the topic of fair trade is. Three years later, our understanding of the whole issue is deeper, but our awareness of some of the complexities is deeper too. Just what “fair trade” actually means differs widely from product to product. When something like coffee is certified as fair trade, we all know that this means that the growers have been paid a fair trade price; it doesn’t tell us anything about the importer or the roaster. Conversely, when you purchase a typical piece of fair trade jewellery, you know that the producer group that made the piece has been treated fairly, but you probably don’t know anything about how the raw materials were produced.

Nugget #3

A really exciting announcement was made in the UK this year on Valentines Day; the Fairtrade Foundation and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) had come together to certify the world’s first fair trade and fair mined gold. Around 15% of the world’s gold production is sourced from small scale miners, numbering around 15 million. Conditions in these small scale mines are often hazardous both to the people working there and the local environment. (more about this in a later blog). The UK initiative focuses on the three core areas of the gold supply chain: a cluster of small-scale mines, a handful of gold traders, and around 20 designer jewelers (again – more of this in a later blog).

So – nuggets over, back to that phone call.

David and Peter have often used each other as sounding boards, personally and professionally. David was doing exactly that with Peter after the closure of Global Fayre when Peter said “come and help me make this fair trade gold thing work” (or something to that effect). Vipa Designs is one of the 8 companies currently licensed to trade in fair trade gold. Quite where this will lead is not clear, but it’s exciting to find a new challenge and to be able to contribute in some way to the growth of fair trade and ethical business.

So – we’re off to England! David, Cheri and the girls are very very excited. We’ll be living near our family there in the middle of the country.

For now at least, this means that Global Fayre is on hold in terms of having an online store and doing educational work. Our hope is that once we get settled in England (we move in August) we can pick the reins back up; however that works out, we’ll keep posting here and on our facebook page. We remain just as passionate about fair trade as ever, and get a real sense that more and more people are joining us in wanting to become conscious consumers.


July 1, 2011 at 17:04 7 comments

Bundles of Divine in a Baby Bolga Basket

We just added some bundles of Divine chocolate to our online store.

It gives you the chance to sample no less than 8 (EIGHT!) different flavors from Divine. The bars of 3.5oz chocolate come in a wicker basket as standard, or you can upgrade to a beautiful baby bolga basket, also from Ghana.

Here’s a bit of background about Divine (courtesy of their website):

The story starts in 1879 when Tetteh Quarshie first brought cocoa to Ghana from Equatorial Guinea. Since then, Ghanaian cocoa has developed a global reputation for its quality and its taste. Today it is one of the country’s main exports. Ghana is the second largest exporter of cocoa in the world. Most of the cocoa is grown by small-scale family farmers on 4-5 acres of land. Cocoa farming is a precarious business. The trees are vulnerable to various diseases and pests and although chocolate is one of the world’s favorite treats, the cocoa price often dips below the level at which it pays enough for cocoa small-scale farmers to survive.

In the early 1990’s, the cocoa market in Ghana become partially liberalized, allowing for the formation of licensed buying companies to purchase cocoa beans from farmers and sell them to Cocoa Marketing Company that would continue to be the single exporter of Ghana cocoa. A number of farmers, including a visionary farmer representative on the Ghana Cocoa Board, Nana Frimpong Abrebrese, came to realize that they had the opportunity to organize farmers in an industry where their voices were not being heard and set up a licensed buying company that would be run by farmers and for their benefit. These farmers pooled resources to set up Kuapa Kokoo, a farmers’ co-op, which would trade its own cocoa, and thus manage the selling process more efficiently than the government cocoa agents. Kuapa Kokoo – which means good cocoa growers – has a mission to empower farmers in their efforts to gain a dignified livelihood, to increase women’s participation in all of Kuapa’s activities, and to develop environmentally friendly cultivation of cocoa.

Kuapa Kokoo quickly developed a reputation for being fair and honest. In Ghana, the cocoa scale and control of the scale is tremendously important. A cocoa farmer can easily be robbed by unscrupulous clerks that rigged the scales to cheat farmers out of the full value of their crop. Kuapa Kokoo put power over the scales in the hands of farmers by making sure that each village had its own scale and its own elected clerk or village recorder. Further, through its commitment to Fair Trade and sale of cocoa to the Fair Trade market, Kuapa Kokoo was able to return greater benefits to cocoa farmers. Its membership quickly grew. In 1997, at their annual general meeting, the farmers of Kuapa Kokoo voted to set up a chocolate company of their own in order to return even more benefits to cocoa farmers. And with investment from The Body Shop and Twin Trading, and support from Comic Relief and Christian Aid, Divine Chocolate was born.

Divine Chocolate is today a leading Fair Trade brand in the UK and a pioneer in the world of socially responsible enterprise. The success of Divine means that farmers have a secure source of Fair Trade income that continues to grow year on year. Kuapa Kokoo has invested its Fair Trade income in building schools, sinking wells for clean drinking water to villages, providing mobile medical clinics for farmers in remote growing regions, and fostering women’s income generation projects to help women earn additional income for their families when the cocoa season is over. The farmers’ ownership stake in Divine Chocolate means that Kuapa Kokoo has a meaningful input into decisions about how Divine is produced and sold. In addition, Kuapa Kokoo receives a share in the profits from their ownership shares and in 2007 celebrated the first distribution of dividends from Divine in the UK. To further its mission and further increase benefits for cocoa farmers, Divine Chocolate launched a US company to expand into $13 billion American market. In 2006, Divine Chocolate Inc opened in Washington DC to bring fantastic Fair Trade chocolate to US consumers. The farmers of Kuapa Kokoo own one-third of Divine Chocolate in the US.

January 18, 2010 at 17:56 Leave a comment

Musical instruments from Jamtown – now at Global Fayre

We’ve made several references to the Fair Trade Federation Conference we went to in Portland, OR earlier this year.

One of the members that we met for the first time was John, from Jamtown. John makes a great contribution to the work of the Fair Trade movement in the USA; drums have been always been a key way for people to connect, and we used that to great effect during World Fair Trade Day when many groups held drumming events to celebrate the day.

Here’s what John says about Jamtown:

JAMTOWN is a musical place that’s not on any map. It’s a place you visit when you play live rhythm with your friends; a subtle reminder of the common bond shared by all people. And it’s as accessible today as it was thousands of years ago.

This is my tenth year in business after leaving the corporate world! Basically, I am an adventure traveller choosing to work directly with producer groups, and these are usually extended families. The goal is to sustain long-term trading relationships to create economic stability. With your help, we provide critical support to these low-income families through fair wages in the local context and other valuable assistance. Most that I have met convey a love for their work and a gentle approach to life. It is a big reasons I do what I do. I gain critical perspective on my own culture by visiting theirs.

As a Fair trade Federation Member, we support artisans with fair wages and more!

We took our first delivery from Jamtown this week; we’re really excited about stocking their products and will ramp up the selection later in the year.

Here’s a selection of what we’ve got so far:


Turtle Frame Drum, made in Indonesia. Looks cute, sounds better than cute!

Kente Cloth Talking Drum, from Ghana. We’ve had these before, but not of this quality. Squeeze the strings to get a tonal talking range. J0141.J0142.TalkingDrumKentiLeopardFabric_lrg

Ocarina Necklaces from Peru – animal and traditional.

Just awesome! Molded clay painted by hand. Play almost a full scale using 6 holes. Includes a fingering chart.


July 15, 2009 at 18:33 Leave a comment

Hand-made Fair Trade cards from Bhaktapur in Nepal

We just got a beautiful new range of cards from our friends at Ganesh Himal Trading. Ganesh is a fellow member of the Fair Trade Federation and a founder member of the Fair Trade Resource Network.

Hand made cards from Bhaktapur

Hand made cards from Bhaktapur

Hand-made Bhaktapur cards are made of Daphne Bark from managed forests in the hills of Nepal. Proceeds from the sales are used for community development activities under a program initiated by UNICEF/Nepal. The card are blank inside and measure 4.5 x 6 inches.

We plan to stock the cards in our downtown Springfield store and also in our online store.

The cards are made by a group called Bhaktapur Crafts, and proceeds from the cards are used to fund community development projects under a program developed by UNICEF/Nepal. We tried to find out more from the UNICEF website; a search on Bhaktapur brought up three (large) pdf’s – so if you’d like to read them just click here.

In terms of Nepal generally, here’s some more information from the UNICEF website:

Nepal is going through a sensitive and fluid political situation. The decade-long Maoist insurgency has taken a toll of about 13,000 lives. The conflict has hampered the delivery of basic services, restricted development assistance and caused a breakdown of family and community networks. Its heaviest impacts fall on women and children.

Issues facing children in Nepal

  • More than 50,000 children die in Nepal each year, with malnutrition as the underlying cause for more than 60 per cent of these deaths.
  • Half of the children in Nepal are underweight and three-fourths of the pregnant women are anaemic.
  • The detection of a few cases of wild polio virus in 2005, following five years without any case, indicates the challenge for cross-border transmission along the border with India.
  • Fifteen per cent of Nepal’s wells are contaminated by arsenic. Despite Nepal’s high overall coverage of accessibility to drinking water, access to improved water for deprived, disadvantaged communities and conflict-affected rural and fringe urban areas remains low.
  • Two-thirds of Nepalis are still without access to toilets.
  • Maternal mortality rates are high due to weak health systems with limited access to emergency obstetric care, skilled attendance and the overall poor status of women. Neonatal mortality rates are also unacceptably high due in part to lack of community awareness on appropriate care of the newborn.
  • The conflict has had a significant impact on education. Forced closures of schools due to strikes have cut the school year in half in some areas. Teachers have been threatened, assaulted and even killed. Thousands of students have been taken from school for political indoctrination, and some have been recruited into the Maoist forces or militia.

Activities and results for children

  • The Decentralized Action for Children and Women (DACAW) programme has proven effective through its strategy of strengthening community action. To guide the expansion of DACAW efforts, UNICEF has helped to conduct a mapping of disadvantaged groups covering 300,000 households in 237 villages and 8 municipalities.
  • Nearly 60,000 boys and girls, 20 per cent from disadvantaged groups, are active in some 3,000 child clubs supported by UNICEF.
  • A national measles campaign has immunized nearly 10 million children.
  • In 2005, the World Health Organization validated the elimination of neo-natal tetanus from Nepal.
  • A programme to de-worm children and provide vitamin A supplements is significantly reducing anaemia and malnutrition rates. The vitamin A effort is saving over 12,000 children’s lives and preventing another 2,000 from going blind every year.
  • The ‘Welcome to School’ campaign initiated by UNICEF has greatly increased enrolment and literacy rates for girls and disadvantaged children, and has raised overall birth registration rates.
  • UNICEF has helped to establish over 300 community-based paralegal committees to respond to issues like domestic violence.
  • More than 1000 school-based child clubs are promoting sanitation and hygiene programmes in their communities.
  • In 2005, UNICEF initiated with its partners a mechanism to monitor and report child rights violations in the context of armed conflict.

June 22, 2009 at 13:56 1 comment

Fair Trade the White House

We’re really pleased to lend our support to a new campaign aimed at bringing Fair Trade to the White House.

Here’s what it is all about:

“Fair Trade the White House,” a grass-roots, nonpartisan coalition of fair trade organizations, vendors, retailers, schools, and individuals, are cordially inviting the First Lady to join the fair trade movement and declare the White House a “Fair Trade Home.” By declaring the White House a “Fair Trade Home,” Mrs. Obama can encourage households throughout America to continue refining their buying habits toward ethical consumption so that poverty, both in America and around the world, is reduced.

Think it’s a good idea? (of course you do!) – then check it out, sign up and start making a difference!

As an added bonus, you will find offers from Global Fayre and other supporters of the campaign. How cool is that?!

June 17, 2009 at 23:38 4 comments

Global Fayre to feature the work of Ben Makhanya, master weaver of Zulu wire baskets

We’re thrilled to be hosting an exhibition of Ben’s work from July 3 to 31st, 2009 at Global Fayre in downtown Springfield, MO. THe exhibition has been made possible with the help of our friend Cael, at Baskets of Africa. ( a fellow member of the Fair Trade Federation)

Ben Makhanya, master weaver of Zulu wire baskets

Ben Makhanya, master weaver of Zulu wire baskets

Ben started weaving at the age of 28, in 2002. His previous job was as a bricklayer and he often had to leave his family for long periods of time to go to work on construction projects. He started weaving to earn an income and found that he thoroughly enjoyed it, experimenting with new designs, stitches and color combinations; he creates fascinating works of art.

His designs and colors are inspired from patterns he sees in things around him … it could be something as simple as a newspaper ad or a piece of clothing that gives him an idea.

Ben works very differently to the other weavers; rather than working to a prescribed pattern and shape, he is encouraged to create designs of his choosing, with his preferred size of bowl being 16 inches in diameter.

The exhibition will open during the First Friday Art Walk on July 3rd, from 6pm to 10pm.

Here are some of Ben’s beautiful creations:


June 16, 2009 at 11:00 1 comment

Fair Trade Ostrich Egg jewelry from the San Bushmen Women of the Kalahari

We just got our first shipment of Ostrich Egg jewelry, made by the San Bushmen Women of the Kalahari.


Ostrich eggshell beads are considered the first beads humans ever made, dating back over 50,000 years, with the San Bushmen women being the last people to make these beads as part of their tradition.

How the ostrich eggshell beads are made:

Photo courtesy of Women's Work and Kuru Family of Organizations

Photo courtesy of Women's Work and Kuru Family of Organizations

1.) The first step is to break the ostrich eggshells into chips.

2.) Then each chip is made round by a springbok horn or nail clippers-whichever is readily available.

3.) Next, a hole is started in each chip with a hand-drill then punched through with a small awl.
4.) Next the drilled chips are strung and laid across a wooden board. 5.) Using a whetstone, the chips are hand polished. The strings are wet, rubbed, then, wet some more. Through this tedious and strenuous task the rough chips are transformed into lovely luminous beads.

We sourced this beautiful jewelry from Celicia at Women’s Work, a fellow member of the Fair Trade Federation. Like many other products that we have managed to find over the past two years, this jewelry is great example of finding a market for a local tradition, using local (and sustainable) materials and giving a real sense of empowerment to the people of the region.

The purchase of these beads helps to preserve the San culture, bringing much-needed income to women deep in the heart of the Kalahari in Botswana.

We’ll be retailing these ‘pearls of the Kalahari’ at Global Fayre in downtown Springfield, and they will also be available shortly through our online store.

June 9, 2009 at 14:03 18 comments

Tagua Jewelry now in the Global Fayre online store

We mentioned the cool Tagua jewelry that we found at the Fair Trade Federation conference in an earlier post.

We’ve had a great reaction to the Tagua since the first delivery arrived, so now we’re added it to our store.

We’ve started with the candy bracelets – they have such vibrant colors, they are a summer must! We’ll be adding to the online collection over the next few weeks – watch out for Ostrich jewelry too!


Update (May 28th):

We’ve now had some info from Christopher at Minga Imports (they are fellow members of the Fair Trade Federation) telling us a little about how the company came about, and so wanted to share it with you:

About Us

Minga Fair Trade Imports began as The Christopher Connection, founded in 1997 by Christopher Keefe during his time living in Ecuador (1995-2004). It started with the concept of improving education (both education in Ecuador and improving public knowledge of Fair Trade in the United States) and supporting the concept of a sharing wage*.

The company name was changed in 2002 to Minga Manufacturers to reflect Chris’ increased involvement in the design and production of the clothing and other products. Minga Manufacturers worked with local producers of textiles to distribute Ecuadorian products throughout the coastal towns and cities of the country, helping to boost the esteem and the economy of the people.

In 2004, Chris made the decision to move the company base back to the United States in order to maximize productivity, and the name was changed to Minga Fair Trade Imports. The business began with a humble start, working out of a friend´s basement.  As the business grew, he moved up to a garage, then a storage unit, and then to a 600 sq. ft. garage.

As the business continued to grow, Mickey was hired to help Chris. A larger variety of merchandise was imported, and before long the garage became too small.  To accommodate the growth, Minga moved yet again to a 2,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, in 2007, where it is presently located. Although the business was founded by Christopher, he credits his employees with helping make the business the success it is today.

Behind the Name: Minga Fair Trade Imports

The name Minga Fair Trade Imports was adopted to reflect what the business does: import products that provide work and fair wages to South American workers, while retaining the original values of education and a sharing wage*.

One of the most common questions we are asked is “What exactly does Minga mean?” Minga is a Quechua (an indigenous language of South America) word meaning “communal work day.”  When people form a Minga, they all come together and work toward a common goal that is often to the benefit of all involved.  We feel that “Minga” is a word that fits perfectly the goals that we’re striving to accomplish, working together for the benefit of all.

Today, Minga Fair Trade Imports works with retailers in more than 20 states, and many master artisans in Ecuador, Peru, and other countries.  We are excited about the future, and are grateful to all who work with us to further the mission of fair trade in the world.

*Sharing Wage:  The concept of a wage that not only provides the recipient with enough money to pay for essential expenses, but also leaves them with enough to reinvest in themselves and their communities, therefore contributing to the common good.

May 27, 2009 at 21:59 Leave a comment

Trunk Scrub Shea Soap from Global Mamas arrives at Global Fayre!

Trunk Scrub?

Shea Soap?

That’s right – we just got our latest delivery from our friends at Global Mamas, and it included a new product line; Trunk Scrub Shea Soap.

Here’s what Global Mamas say about the soap:

It is naturally moisturizing and refreshing, handmade by women in Ghana, and uses pure unrefined shea butter, coconut oil, sodium hydroxide and essential oils.

The pure unrefined shea butter is extracted from the kernels of wild karite trees in Ghana. This African “liquid gold” contains vitamins A and E and minerals that work to moisturize and restore the natural beauty of your skin. It contains natural UV protection and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and stretch marks”


It comes in three fragrances; lavender, rosemary and tea tree oil – and it smells wonderful!

The packaging is made from 100% recycled polythene plastic from Ghana.

We’ve dealt with Global Mamas ever since we first opened the store; you’ll have seen the too-cute baby and children clothes, plus the cool pj’s and lounge pants. They are a nonprofit, fair trade organization with the mission of empowering women in Africa. They are also members of the World Fair Trade Organization and fellow members of the Fair Trade Federation.

May 25, 2009 at 17:21 Leave a comment

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