What does Fair Trade mean to you?
Fair trade is fundamentally an approach to commerce that places the welfare of the original maker at the centre of the business, as opposed to company profits. This means not only paying a fair wage for all products, but also ensuring that an array of environmental, labour and health standards are adhered to. The WFTO (World Fair Trade Organisation) monitors the compliance of their member organisations to their strict standards.
The role of Maison Bengal, as a fair trade buyer, is to ensure year-long consistent orders for the artisans we work with. Our role is also to help our buyers better understand the realities of producing hand made baskets, mats and bags from a poor developing country, disproportionately affected by climate change. (The monsoon season now starts earlier and lasts longer, and it is very difficult to dry and weave a natural grass during the rainy season). These challenges are very real for the people we work with in Bangladesh, and need to be taken into account when discussing orders and production schedules. Maison Bengal acts as an intermediary between the hard realities of commerce and the real lives of our producers in remote areas of Bangladesh.
For me fair trade means establishing a long-lasting relationship with a remote community, where their traditional artisanal skills combined with Maison Bengal’s access to international buyers are merged into a fabulous, symbiotic partnership. We have become mutually accountable to each other.