Skip to content
20% Off All Outdoor Products This Weekend Using Code: MEMORIALDAY
20% Off All Outdoor Products This Weekend Using Code: MEMORIALDAY

Your Basket (0)

View basket

Your basket is empty

Continue shopping

How fair trade works

Slide Image
Slide Image

Ten Thousand Villages does business differently than typical retailers. Our artisan investment model puts the maker first and is built on long-term partnerships and fair trade principles. It is designed to provide makers in developing countries opportunity to gain a safety net of financial security and break the cycle of poverty.

Slide Image
Slide Image

HERE’S HOW OUR MODEL WORKS:

1. Transparent price agreement

1. Transparent price agreement

Fair wage pricing is paid regardless of economic changes.

It all starts with a conversation between us and the maker. Sometimes it’s a cooperative of artisans, other times just one maker. The makers present us with a sample built on their skill, tools, traditional art forms, available materials and market design. Then we talk about how to ensure sustainability for both of us as the product is developed and brought to market. Most importantly, we make sure that makers factor profit and fair wage into a final price for their handcrafts.

2. Interest-free microfinance investment

2. Interest-free microfinance investment

50% payment upfront enables raw material purchases, handcraft production, and protection from exploitative loans.

This may sound like business as usual, but it’s really quite unconventional. When a product order is placed, we pay 50% of the agreed price as an interest-free advance to help cover the cost of raw materials and production, and to protect makers from exploitative loans.

3. Crafting of product

3. Crafting of product

Strong partnership promotes artisan development and business growth.

We stand side-by-side with our artisan partners, we ensure safe and equitable working conditions, collaborate on product development and quality control activities, and support complex export operations.

4. Payment before export

4. Payment before export

Paying in full before product is shipped removes all financial risk for makers.

When the product is ready to ship to the U.S., we pay the final balance before export. By doing so, we accept the risk of lost or damaged product, market trend changes, and tariffs so that artisans are not burdened with potential loss.

5. Marketplace for product

5. Marketplace for product

Handcrafted goods are made available to customers through our established retail network.

Maintaining a U.S. market for handcrafted goods is at the core of our mission. With a reliable place to sell their work, artisans grow their income and lift themselves from poverty. Retail stores may seem like just another commercial entity, but they are the key to financial hope and stability for marginalized artisans.

6. Empowered makers

6. Empowered makers

A safety net of dependable income becomes the foundation for thriving communities.

When we do what we do, food is on the table, kids go to school, families build homes and save for the future, and confidence becomes contagious. Our ethical investment model empowers makers to grow their businesses, provide for their families, and strengthen their communities.

You may wonder ...

Nothing. What we do isn’t about charity; it’s about investment. We turn the entire business relationship upside down so that the craftspeople are paid first and paid fairly. Your purchases help to fund the entire artisan investment model. Your donations are focused directly on the upfront microfinancing that is so crucial to makers’ ability to produce their goods in a stable and nonexploitative business environment.

A safe working environment is essential to improving the lives of people in developing countries. It is a guiding principle of fair trade. Ten Thousand Villages visits the workshops, interacts with artisans as they work, and provides feedback for ways to improve safety and health standards. Through partnerships and capacity building efforts, Ten Thousand Villages has paid for water effluent treatment plants, improved tools, lighting and ventilations systems at some workshops.

Absolutely. The global market has become a very competitive place that has put enormous pressure on craftspeople all over the world to make their products cheaper and faster. Choosing to purchase fair trade is a way of saying thatit’s important to you that the person who made your product is not exploited. By shopping with intention at Ten Thousand Villages, you are investing in the dignity and future of marginalized people.

Slide Image
Slide Image

OBSTACLE

HOW FAIR TRADE HELPS

Economic uncertainty inhibits planning for the future

Sustainable and inclusive long-term relationships and transparent communication create stability and allow planning for the future

Rigid social structures limit individuals and communities from reaching full potential

Job opportunities for marginalized people help elevate their socio-economic status and quality of life

Few opportunities for women

Promoting gender equality and empowerment of women and girls strengthens households and communities

Child labor exposes children to unsafe environments and often gets in the way of educational opportunities

Child labor is prohibited and fair wages help parents afford education, food and healthcare for their children

Unsafe working conditions and practices make work dangerous or even deadly

Safe working conditions promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation, resulting in fewer health issues or work-related deaths

Harmful environmental practices

Environmental responsibility reduces the carbon footprint and recycling keeps useful materials out of landfills

No local market for crafts made by traditional methods limits the value of ancient expertise

Design collaboration leads to innovations that use time-honored skills in new ways for new markets

High interest loans

Interest-free cash advances and prompt payments allow makers to create their products, avoid debt and invest in their communities

Few opportunities for people with disabilities

Skills training and other programs empower makers with disabilities to become contributing members of society