What is fair trade?
Fair Trade is a type of certification process that is defined by purchasing goods at a fair and livable wage. In a world where so many products are made utilizing sweatshop and forced labor, buying items that are fair trade is a way to ensure that the product was produced under fair working conditions (no sweatshops), no child labor or slave labor and that the people who made the item were paid at a premium that allows for proper housing, sanitation, healthcare, education for children and confidence. In addition, Fair Trade principles ensure the environment is protected and companies claiming the certification are sharing profits with producer communities.
How can you tell that an item is fair trade?
The simplest way is to look for a Fair Trade label, similar to an organic label on many food items. Fair Trade Certification is a lengthy and potentially costly process and many wonderful producers do not seek it for those reasons. This does not mean a product was not fairly produced. Consumers should be empowered to question retailers and suppliers about the labor and environmental standards behind their wares. See "What is fair trade" above for some principles to look for.
Why doesn't Yobel have all Fair Trade certified products?
We work on a case by case basis with each community project directly. After conducting personal research involving visits, interviews with both workers and leaders, and studying for ourselves the ethics of each coop and the way they are affecting their community, we discern whether fair trade principles are being upheld. If they are and future accountability can be ensured, we opt to carry them in Yobel stores. This process allows smaller coops and single family artist projects to be featured in our boutique that otherwise wouldn't be able. It also requires our customers to trust in our process, to engage more in asking good questions, and to become more invested in the people we choose to work with globally. For further accountability, we invite customers and volunteers to travel with us to visit artisan projects overseas through our Yobel Exposure Trips.
Is Yobel Market a 501(c)3 (nonprofit)?
No. We believe there is something to be proud of in being an ethical business that wants to leave the world better than when we started and seeks to do so sustainably. Yobel is a Social Entrepreneurship that does give much of our profits to a few different 501(c)3's including Yobel International, a non-profit founded by the owners of Yobel Market.
What is the significance of the name Yobel?
Yobel is the Hebrew word for the celebration of Jubilee, a Jewish festival occurring every 50th year and symbolizing a turning of tables; the cancellation of debts, freedom of captives, and restoration of the land. We love the joy and implication of this celebration and believe the heart of Yobel aligns and resonates deeply with its intention.
What's with the Logo?
Yobel's logo is a Ugandan Kob, one of the national animals of Uganda and found on the Ugandan flag. Our story begins in Uganda with the people of Canaan Farm being our first micro-grant and business partnership. When thinking of a logo that would be original and significant, the combined beauty and strength of the Kob along with it's uniqueness to Uganda immediately came to mind.
How does Yobel contribute to the end of Slavery?
One of the largest contributing factors to slavery today is poverty. Yobel seeks to reduce poverty by helping to empower artisans to establish income generation projects through business training and helping to establish fair trade global markets. This lowers the potential risk of a family member being trafficked or an artisan having to indenture a child or themselves in order to survive. Also, many of Yobel's partners provide alternatives to sweat labor and prostitution through dignified work in fair trade industries. Yobel helps to fund salaries of these individuals through marketing their products to you! Thank-you for supporting our anti-slavery work.
Where can I buy other fairly produced products?
Lots of places, mostly online. If you live in Europe, you aren't even asking this question. Check out the Better World Shopping Guide for really up-to-date rankings on more than 1,000 businesses in their ethics and sustainability. This resource can help you to be a savvy shopper and make choices that better others rather than continue to enslave them. For everyday items, you can choose between the better well-known brands to make conscientious buy. Download Not for Sale's Free to Work App. Shop at Ten Thousand Villages. Check out Pure Citizen and Rootz (like Groupon for ethical goods). If all else fails, google it.
What are some critiques of the Fair Trade movement?
There are many and we aren't trying to hide it. Be informed, please! Some critiques we are aware of concern the high cost of certification, the lack of artisans and farmers able to achieve certification, the low quality and high cost when it is treated as charity rather than empowerment, and it being used as a marketing ploy to gain more profits for Western companies increasing their mark-up because of a label. Yobel does our best to act as "seekers" and find ways to work with each artisan community in the way local leaders deem to be best in order to achieve goals for developing infrastructure. We work with people based on relationship
Is Fair Trade just another marketing ploy to get me to feel better about spending money?
Yes! You nailed it. You were going to spend it somewhere anyway, so why not feel good about it? Because seriously, you should. Buying fair trade, direct trade, true trade, ethically traded, whatever you want to call it...is a way to provide life, dignity, hope and empowerment to a person who frankly just needs a little slice of the economic pie. I've seen it working in the real world and there is a difference between the person who knows they get to wake up to a job they enjoy and be paid a fair wage for their labor and the person who doesn't. That individual holds their head high, squares their shoulders, and walks with a lighter step. That is because their child is in school, their medical needs are met, their pantry is full and their roof isn't leaking. In truth, their is hope in their future. What a gift we get to give, all in choosing to spend our money just a little more purposefully if we are going to spend it at all.
What is Yobel International's focus?
Yobel International is a justice oriented non-profit founded with the intention of empowering communities within the developing world to have hope of freedom and abundant life through business training, development of community infrastructure, and education while bringing awareness to American consumers about the power they have to make a difference in the world through awareness and conscientious buying habits.
When was Yobel Market founded?
Yobel Market started in May 2008 at a farmer's market stand in Woodland Park, CO selling a shoe box full of bamboo jewelry from our first project, Canaan Farm in Northern Uganda. Little by little we were able to re-invest our products into supporting other endeavors and grow into our first brick and mortar boutique in Old Colorado City May of 2010.
How do you choose your projects?
Often our projects choose us! In the beginning, we worked with artisans we personally developed relationships with through our global travels. As Yobel's presence in the community has grown, more and more organizations and friends have come through our doors asking us to join their efforts to empower others through trade around the world. At that point we enter into a process of discerning whether our missions, brand, and principles align and if so, we begin to work together! We have a fair trade artisan application for those with an existing project they would like to see marketed in our stores. Please contact us if you would like one.
I want to start a Fair Trade project...any advice?
Go for it! Ideas are a dime a dozen. Few and far between are the people who act on their dreams. So whatever you were made for, do it! As for empowerment through small business, that's a long conversation. Some basics to look for in beginning are:
- Reliable and accountable local leadership
- Good capacity for communication
- Natural skill or traditional art
- Good work ethic
Next, we encourage you to think true empowerment. Try to avoid creating a process that will further dependency on charity or foreign aid. Work with entrepreneurs to think of business ideas that will have a market within their own economy even if you hope to seek outside markets as well. Next think of product ideas that will reach your desired target market (without flooding it), ideally something unique and of high quality. It can help to do this research before you begin. Determine what is a fair livable wage in the local economy and stay within it, otherwise you risk inflating the local economy. Do not make promises you cannot keep. Let us know if we can help!
How much of my dollar goes to the person who made my product?
Great question! It depends on the organization who made it and the local economy where it was produced. All products are purchased up front by Yobel Market at a rate which provides a fair living wage to the artisan (usually between 2-4 times market price). Once products are sold within the US, Yobel contributes a share of profits back to the projects we have founded in the form of projects that will benefit the entire community, ie: Primary School in Uganda, Greenhouses in Mexico, Food Programs, Clean Water Projects, Livestock Programs and more. Yobel also works with a number of other NGOs globally who include the cost of health care, pensions, education and more for their artisans within the price Yobel pays initially for products we market on their behalf.
What is the difference between Fair Trade and Free Trade?
Free Trade refers to Trade Agreements between the United States and other developing nations (ie: Central America, Africa) for the purpose of lowering trade restrictions, customs and duties in order to encourage trade with these nations and develop their economies. Critics of this legislation claim that it is a cause of American companies moving off shore, creating loss of American jobs and exploitation of resources and workers in developing nations.
Fair Trade seeks to assist workers within developing nations to earn a fair and livable wage while ensuring the protection of local environments and providing safe working conditions. Additional Fair Trade Principles can be seen above.
What is an exposure trip?
An exposure trip is both an adventure and an opportunity to "be exposed" to real injustice around the globe as well as the hope that can be found in the midst of it when people choose to love one another. We invite you on a 2-3 week low-budget glimpse into the world of our artisans and partners and give you an opportunity to use your passions and skills to serve and empower through business training, product development, relational ministry and community building.
Is Yobel a faith-based organization?
The founders and vast majority of those involved with Yobel are lovers of Jesus (and doing our best to be followers). While this influences and motivates the heart behind what we do, we have chosen to create Yobel Market apart from issues of faith in order to create an environment that welcomes people of all backgrounds. Our non-profit, Yobel International, is a faith based organization, modeling much of its mission after the teachings of Isaiah 61.
How often does Yobel visit our projects/partners?
Yobel visits projects many of our projects (especially ones founded by us) on an annual or biannual basis, depending on the progress and need of artisans as well as financial capacity.
Who can volunteer with Yobel?
A person who is 16 years or older who is passionate about our mission and has a desire to utilize their gifts and strengths toward furthering fair trade empowerment, education, and hope throughout the world.
How do I know at what events Yobel will be?
The best way to keep up with Yobel events is to follow us on Facebook and Twitter which are updated most regularly. We also publicize events through our newsletters (contact us if you'd like to be added) and attempt to keep our website up-to-date with current listings.
If you have any other questions please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org