GGP partners exclusively with artisan organizations that operate according to fair trade principles. Each of the more than 40 artisan organizations we work with commit to operating safe and healthy workplaces, promoting environmental sustainability, and paying each artisan a fair living wage. In turn, GGP advances working capital with an upfront payment of 50 percent and pays the balance when the order is delivered to us. In some circumstances, especially in conflict regions, GGP pays 100 percent upfront.
What is Fair Trade?
Fair trade is both a market-based approach and a social movement committed to improving conditions for the working poor around the world and promoting responsible stewardship of the environment throughout the production process.
In practice, fair trade has gained greater prominence in the US for commodities like coffee, chocolate, and tea. For these goods, fair trade focuses on eliminating middlemen in order to guarantee a price floor for producers in marginalized communities and in allocating subsidies for community development.
The fair trade crafts sector is growing steadily yet remains smaller than the market for commodities. This is because uniform fair trade standards are not feasible as the production process for crafts can vary significantly. Fair trade products—including GGP products—are characterized by being produced by artisan groups that offer fair wages, are committed to fostering open and democratic workplaces, and respect the environment and health of their communities.
Why focus on fair trade and economic empowerment?
We believe that economics, education, health, and gender equality are all interrelated. Economically empowered women lead to healthier and better-educated children and communities. Improved health produces more effective schooling and a more productive workforce. Better educational opportunities create higher-paying jobs and a more open and just society.
What is the fair trade certification process for handcrafted products?
Currently, there is not a fair trade certifying body for crafts. Fair Trade USA certifies many commodities like coffee, tea, and chocolate. However, given the individuality of each type of craft and the range of raw materials and tools needed for production, certification for handcrafted products is not a feasible prospect at this time. Global Goods Partners is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, which is a strict peer-reviewed federation of organizations that adhere to fair trade practices. The Fair Trade Federation identifies the following nine principles for fair trade organizations to uphold:
Create Social and Economic Opportunities
Build Capacity and Support Independence
Support Empowering Working Conditions
Promote Fair Trade
Pay Promptly and Fairly
Ensure the Rights of Children
Develop Accountable Relationships
Cultivate Environmental Stewardship
Respect Cultural Identity
How do you ensure that your products are fair trade?
We work with all of our partners to determine fair living wage standards in their communities and to ensure that their operations conform to fair trade practices. We communicate with multiple individuals in each artisan group so that checks and balances are inherently built into the process. Periodic visits by GGP staff and input from trusted colleagues who reside in the countries where we work also contribute to our information gathering and monitoring process.
What makes GGP different from others retailers selling fair trade crafts?
We differ from other retailers in four key areas:
1) We work with small artisan communities. Producer groups with greater capacities can often find access to a variety of markets. We are committed to working with marginalized and largely rural groups with small production capacities that are often just starting to bring product to market.
2) We are a not-for-profit social enterprise, dedicating all proceeds from the sale of products to supporting our community-based partners. We work closely with our partners, providing capacity-building grants and technical assistance in their production processes, organizational operations, and social change agendas.
3) For each of our artisan partners, community development is a key facet of their work. Income generation is a critical issue, but is often more successful if funds and efforts are also invested in community building programs such as access to education, health services, child-care, and the advancement of economic and social justice.
4) We share the stories of our artisans and their community organizations. Our website is dedicated to providing educational resources to consumers regarding the countries and communities in which GGP products are made, the techniques of production used, and the lives of the women who create the products you purchase.
How does GGP find and choose its artisan partners?
Global Goods Partners' founders, Joan Shifrin and Catherine Shimony, are veterans of the international development world. Through their previous work experience, Joan and Catherine identified a handful of artisan partners when GGP first launched in 2005. Since then, through travel, outreach to professional networks and the advent of nearly universal Internet access, we have met artisans whose work we love and admire. As a not-for-profit organization, however, our impact is greatest when we devote our expertise and resources to supporting and promoting artisan organizations that are relatively young and seeking to expand beyond their local market.
GGP's priority is to find strong women-led community groups with quality handmade products that have the potential to be marketed successfully in international markets. Our artisan partners are community based organizations, social enterprises, and artisan cooperatives that combine the production and sale of handcrafted items with local development programs to improve the economic well being and quality of life in their communities.
Why focus on women?
Globally, women and children suffer disproportionately from economic, environmental, political, and social hardships. When women receive the tools to learn a craft, manage their finances, or start and run a business, they gain experience, confidence, practical skills, and economic independence. These skills and experiences enable women to move beyond achieving simple economic improvements to making a real positive impact on the well being of their families and their communities.
Where else can I find your products?
In addition to shopping online, our products are also available in retail stores across US and abroad. If you are interested in selling our fair trade wholesale products, please visit our wholesale site.
What percentage of my purchase goes to the artisan?
As a mission based organization, all of our work is directed toward strengthening the capacity of our community-based partners and helping them expand income opportunities to more and more women artisans. Beyond fair wages and the cost of materials, additional factors that are built into the price of our products include: international shipping and customs, warehousing, photography, design and product development, and website enhancements and other promotional efforts to better showcase our artisan partners’ work. For a breakdown of where sales revenue goes, visit our Impact page.
How and when are artisans paid?
In strict adherence to fair trade principles, we pay our artisan partners 50 percent of the product cost when we place an order so that they can purchase the materials they need for production and pay artisan wages on a timely basis. The balance is paid when we receive delivery of the order. GGP assumes the cost of all inventory that doesn't sell; all artisans are paid for their work regardless of whether a product sells.
How can I learn about the impact of my purchase?
Our website is packed with information about our community partners, the unique challenges they face, the techniques they employ in their craft, and the ideas behind socially responsible shopping. Visit the Impact section of our site and individual Artisan pages for additional information.
How can I support GGP’s partners without making a purchase?
We appreciate your interest in supporting our work. The quickest and easiest way is to make a donation through our secure website. If you'd prefer to make a donation by mail, please send it to Global Goods Partners, 650 1st Ave, New York, NY 10016. All gifts of support are directed toward helping our partners expand their capacity and secure income-generating jobs for women artisans in their communities.