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Looking Back: October 1989 - Ten Years of Traidcraft

Traidcraft were the original ‘Fair Trade’ pioneers. Set up in 1979, they advocated the importance of organic farming, sustainability and transparency to the lives of producers around the world. What seems so normal to us now, was radical back in October 1989.

Traidcraft’s Tenth Anniversary

By Ann Wigglesworth


Traidcraft celebrates its tenth anniversary this year and is now a household name for most church members who are concerned about injustice in our small world.

A network of voluntary reps throughout the country, mainly working through their local churches, has encouraged Christian folk to realise that we can use our buying power to bring about change in the conditions of those in the developing world.

We can choose the option of paying a fair price for our tea, coffee and other Third World goods.

The company began in 1979 as a response to God’s call to “bring the Good News’ to the poor”.

It is a trading company dedicated to bringing the principles of justice and love into its trading practices with partners in the developing world. This means:

1. Paying a fair price for goods, not looking for bargains, not waiting until the producer is desperate and will take any price.

2. Helping producers develop new products.

3. Standing by producers in difficult times; such as the recent floods in Bangladesh when the jute works (marketing co-op) were paid in advance, so that the women could have money to buy food and then get back to work.

Will Pay More

In the first year of trading 12 producer groups from four countries provided all the goods. The year’s sales were £30,000. Ten years on, sales topped £4 million, coming from over 200 producers in 30 developing countries.

A recent Gallup Poll commissioned by Traidcraft revealed that 79% of shoppers are prepared to pay more for their tea if they know that the Third World producers are getting a fairer wage.

In Scotland the figure was 88% indicating a greater-than-average concern for those exploited by our trade systems. This concern has accounted for the success of Traidcraft in the Scottish Churches and in the retail outlets.

We buy many articles and foods from the developing world without considering whether a fair wage has been paid to the folk at the other end. In most cases it would be very difficult to find out but Traidcraft staff do that background research for us, making sure that the people who do the work really benefit through trading wit us. Two of the projects that supplied the first stock in 1979 are the Jute Works, Bangladesh and Archana, northern India.

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