Fair Trade: The Power to Purchase Freedom

By: Helping Hands

For Australians, freedom is something we rarely think about.

However, millions in the world are slaves to poverty, slaves to the sex trade, and slaves to unfair work practices. For them, freedom is something they may only ever dream of. Is there an answer to this overwhelming problem?

Yes. Fair trade.

Unlike charity, which is based on donations of money, fair trade changes peoples’ lives for the better by enabling them to build their own businesses and create their own income. Over the next two weeks, Channel 9 TV show, Helping Hands will visit a Fair Trade Market held in Sydney to explore what fair trade is and how fair trade is making a positive impact.

During the program, Nimmity Zappert, from the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand, explains that the Association brings like-minded businesses and individuals together who want to support fair trade, empowering them to be instruments of change around the world as they run what is otherwise an ordinary business.

“We’re a group of businesses … who are all about supporting the mission of fair trade, which is to alleviate poverty through fair trade practice … That means paying (people) well, ensuring that they’ve got good working conditions, but primarily it’s about giving access to market for disadvantaged producers that may not otherwise have access to our market here in Australia.”

Fair trade brings the benefit of such a wide range of social and ethical advantages that there is no one reason why people choose to run fair trade businesses or make purchases from them.

Rosemary, from AfriBeads, believes strongly that people should be paid fairly for their beautiful work. The jewellery she sells is made by people living in poverty in Uganda, where a devastating 50% unemployment rate continues to plague the country.

“Why shouldn’t people in Uganda have the same opportunity to earn money like people in Australia? To be able to care properly for your children?”

Caroline, from Created by Culture, has lived most of her life in Australia, but was born in in Ghana, West Africa. Ghana holds a special place in her heart, as do the many artisans and talented craftspeople who live in poverty there.

“I’m really trying to focus on building the profile of some of the artisanry that sits in Ghana and some of the … craftsmanship there, to actually support artisans in Ghana. If I don’t build that market, build that profile for our customers, I’m not going to be supporting those artisans consistently.”

Those who value fair trade and the positive impact it can bring all care about the quality of the product they buy or sell. But more importantly, they care deeply about the individuals and communities at every step of the supply chain. They know it’s both a privilege and a responsibility to change lives through the simple act of choosing what to buy.

Barbara Higgins, who organised the Fair Trade Market featured in Helping Hands, summarises the impact beautifully.

“If the overseas artisans were here today to see their products being sold, I think they wouldn’t be able to believe it. They’d be over the moon to see the things that they have made being bought to make a difference in their lives.”

See the FAIR TRADE MARKET story and the full catalogue of Helping Hands documentaries at Catch up on full episodes of Helping Hands on 9NOW.

Fair Trade Market – Part 1 

Fair Trade Market – Part 2 

Article supplied with thanks to Helping Hands.

Feature image: Supplied, Helping Hands TV: Nimmity Zappert from the Fair Trade Association

About the Author: Helping Hands is an Australian produced TV program that airs on 9GEM, Channel 9 and 9NOW, and showcases people and organisations who make the world a better place.

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