This Saturday, May 13th, is the World Fair Trade Day. Naturally, I have been reflecting on what Fair Trade means — for me personally, for GlobeIn, and for our mission. “Fair Trade” as a term is often misunderstood and misconstrued, but I feel it can be summed up in one word: Empowerment.

Fair Trade is about empowerment. That’s it.

GlobeIn Team in Oaxaca, May 2017

Myriad different concepts describe what fair trade is and what it does, and millions of parameters and numbers describe and measure GlobeIn’s social impact, but this week, as I travelled to Oaxaca, Mexico to visit our team of artisans there, one thing became clear to me: fair trade is about empowerment.

Mariana & Leo

Take for example, Marina and Leo (pictured above). Marina has worked as GlobeIn’s Artisan Coordinator in Oaxaca for more than four years and it has been incredible to watch her transformation into an experienced and savvy businesswoman, running her own business in addition to organizing 50 artisans across Oaxaca who produce GlobeIn products.

Marina’s husband Leo shattered the constraints of rural machismo by leaving field work to join his wife in the artisan sector. He now earns a better living and than he did in the field, and together they are building a bright future. (You can see their collection of handmade bags here!)

handmade baskets, oaxaca mexico
Juanita Garcia

This trip also allowed me to finally meet Dona Juanita (left, in purple) in person. I’ve been following her journey for more than a year, and to me she is another embodiment of empowerment.

We have been working with her husband, Don Juan, for more than three years, yet didn’t learn about Juanita’s involvement in the basket business until much later.

Today, I discovered that Juanita has stepped out from her husband’s shadow and is becoming a master weaver in her own right. She is someone that other weavers look up to and, most importantly, someone who is willing to share her skills, knowledge, and advice with her fellow artisans.

GlobeIn is about empowerment and fair trade is too. Happy World Fair Trade Day!

fair trade artisan weavers
Don Juan & Juanita