When you buy a basket, pot, weaving or jewelry from an artisan in the emerging world, you are helping them earn a living, but are you paying them fairly for their work? While you can look for a TransFair Fair Trade Certified label on things like coffee, tea, chocolate, vanilla, fruit, sugar and rice, how do you know if the art and craftwork you are buying is Fair Trade?
"At the click of a button, the Wage Guide converts ‘artisan per piece payment’ to a ‘daily wage’ and then compares the daily wage to international economic indicators providing advice on how to increase wages to meet these standards."
The Guide is built with free, open-source technology so that it is easy for artisans to use with their own systems. The hope is that the Guide will help the movement to create a fair trade craft product label, and that by working with IFAT, FTF, or FLO it can be adopted as an international standard around fair trade pricing.
In a recent interview, Priya Haji, Co-Founder and Board President of World of Good Development Organization, who is also the CEO and President of its sister organization, World of Good Inc., explained why fair trade pricing is so important for artisans:
"In most developing countries, 75 to 80 percent of the informal workforce are women, whether they are cleaning homes, whether they are milking cows, or whether they are making a bracelet or weaving cloth in their home. So finding how to develop standards to support that sector of the economy is extremely important to the long-term life and health outcomes of not only these women but also their families.
We have had women's groups write us from Thailand and say, 'We make these beautiful weavings that take us days, and we earned a really high price for them, and we thought, "Wow, this is what is really making us money." But when we put it through the calculator and we realized, for how long it takes us, the amount of money, even though it is our higher-ticket item, it isn't really making us that much money. Meanwhile, we also use the same traditional technique and we weave something that goes on the back of a barrette. The barrette sells for much less, but it takes us such a short time; so if we could actually market more of our barrettes, we are earning more per day or more per week than when we market these weavings that are essentially getting underpaid in the market.'"
World of Good is also working with eBay to create The Marketplace, "a socially conscious online marketplace, comprised of many different sellers, anchored in ethically sourced artisan goods and expanding to include other socially conscious product offerings."
For more information about the Fair Trade Wage Guide, contact Holly Harbour, World of Good Development Organization's Co-Founder and Executive Director at holly AT worldofgood DOT org.
Photo: Priya Haji demonstrates the Fair Trade Wage Guide to artisans in Kenya.