Fair Trade: Going Beyond Charity

A Global Marketplace

Fair trade goes beyond charity by helping people help themselves

By Daniel P. Smith, Presbyterians Today
photo of a man selling potatoes
Photo by Vasant Dave, India

As Colleen Shannon ventured around the globe on various faith-based trips—to Africa and Central America, in particular—a grim, unrelenting reality gripped her, time and again: the gap between her American life of comfort and the daily struggles for survival endured by so many of her global kin.

“Something was wrong with the picture I was seeing,” says Shannon, a member of First Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tenn.

As a result of her experiences, Shannon became involved with Partners for Just Trade, a Presbyterian Hunger Program initiative and fair trade organization that sells unique, handmade gifts from Peru, Cameroon and Nicaragua.

“By helping producers organize and bring their products to market at a fair price, we’re helping them gain control of their own lives and communities,” Shannon says. “Fair trade seems a way I can respond to this disparity beyond simple charity.”

Though few question the goals of fair trade, many wonder if it can become anything more than a niche market. Many in the Presbyterian world, however, are committed to working for the expansion of fair trade. They see it as one of the most effective ways of fulfilling the biblical call to improve the lives of those in need.

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photo of peppers
Photo by Alistair Williamson

Read The Stories Behind the Products and meet the people that live Fair Trade.

Learn more about the Presbyterian Church’s involvement with and understanding of fair trade: http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/enough/fair-trade-good-news/.

Learn about the global impact of fair trade from Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of fair trade products in the United States: www.fairtradeusa.org.

Read Unbound‘s article on contrition, food, and transformation, “Flourishing through Contrition,” by Shannon Jung.




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Banner image by Ryan Smart.
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