Fair Trade Innovations

September 12, 2010

Really interesting panel on Saturday, “Innovating the fair trade model.”  Presenters Chris Bacon, Shayna Harris, Bradley Russell, and Darryl Reed each talked about a new model of doing fair trade – some certified, some not – but all innovative ways to empower and connect consumers to producers through fairer supply chains.

Darryl’s overview of Kudumbashree in Kerala, India, was particularly interesting.  This cooperative is 3 million – yes, million – members strong and has harnessed the collective strength of its members to make a difference in their lives.  Some of the co-ops activities: they’ve set up a clothing brand, the members sell what they produce to one another – not just outside markets, and they push the government to buy fair trade products like school uniforms.

Taking a cue from the Cafe Femenino project in Peru, Kudumbashree is now working to set up a women-focussed fair trade clothing supply chain.  Women cotton farmers will supply the cotton and Kudumbashree women members will stitch the clothes.  Eventually, Kudumbashree hopes to set up a set of women’s empowerment brand that shows consumers which products are contributing specifically to women’s development.  Very cool!

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