Fair Trade

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

by Crystal Huskey


Globalization has had a profound effect on the world over the course of the past three decades. We are in a very interesting, exciting time.  We are experiencing a technological revolution; it's far from over.  Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina began saying in 2004 that we were "at the end of the beginning" of the information age and that the last 25 years were just "the warm up act".  Technology isn't done with us yet.  We are now living in the formative years of Globalization 3.0 (Friedman, It's a Flat World After All).

We have seen the ugly side of globalization, the economic kick-in-the-butt of out-sourcing and off-shoring.  We have also seen foreign investors, at the advice of the World Bank, buy up businesses in Africa, strip their assets and abandon them.  With the advent of social media and instant access to world events, we know that this system is failing.  Exploiting the developing world is not a nice way to do business.

Ten Thousand Villages employs craftsmen is
isolated areas and provides a sustainable
livelihood.
Enter 3.0.  The next wave will not be large corporations that are only concerned with the bottom line.  It will be social entrepreneurs, intelligent business men and women who want to combine global enterprise with a genuine desire to change the world.

All that to say this: fair trade will be a big part of this movement.  Fair trade has been around a while, but is now becoming more mainstream.  Walmart now carries fair trade coffee, which in essence means, "we pay the laborers in the coffee fields a fair wage and do not exploit them. We create jobs and want to make the world a more fair, equal place for everyone."  Other businesses employ people in isolated areas as craftsmen and sell the wares for a profit in the States, while giving the workers good pay so that they don't have to travel to the cities.  Now wouldn't that be an exciting field to be a part of?

The information age makes us aware of what's happening and lays a responsibility on the consumer that has never been felt before.  Look for Fair Trade labeling on your products.  You will have a more unique product and know that you are helping to change the world.

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