Tag Archives: Fair Trade Social media

Fair Trade: Empowering Women Around the World

27 Mar
These women formed Arte Comasagua, an artisan group that Hope for Women is proud to work wtih

These women formed Arte Comasagua, an artisan group in El Salvador that we are proud to work with.

Poverty and gender inequality are main factors which cause women worldwide to lack employment opportunities and to struggle to support themselves without the aid of men. Engaging in trade can be especially difficult because in many societies it is considered inappropriate for women to take part in this type of work. Fair Trade promotes gender equality through imparting equal wages and providing women with economic opportunities. It also encourages women to take on leadership positions and to fully participate in discussion and decision making about business practices.

Fair Trade gives women the chance to provide for themselves and their families, which strengthens their position in society and gives them the resources and skills needed to take control of their lives and futures. Below are examples from around the world of women who have been empowered by Fair Trade and were able to create a better life for themselves.



Fair Trade USA featured a story on Hinga Kawa, a Women’s Association, which is part of the  Abakunda Kawa cooperative and is comprised of a group of women who joined together as a community to sell their coffee. Many of these women are widows or orphans due to the genocide in their country, so they hold many responsibilities at home as well as at work in the coffee fields. By forming Hinga Kawa, these women are able to take pride in selling coffee that they have grown and also have a supportive network of women who share their hardships. Although Fair Trade has not made these women rich, it has provided them with an income that will allow them to send their children to school and still be able to feed them.

Hinga Kawa Women's Association of coffee farmers in Rwanda

Hinga Kawa Women’s Association of coffee farmers in Rwanda


The story of one woman, Donha Conceção, also featured by Fair Trade USA exemplifies the major, life changing impact that Fair Trade can have on struggling women worldwide.  When Donha Conceção was widowed with five children to care for, she was left with only the knowledge of coffee farming as means of survival.  After a period of extremely difficult times, she decided to join the Fair Trade Certified coffee cooperative, Coocafé, where she learned to farm more sustainably.  Through their aid she was able to increase the quality and price of her coffee.  The resulting success of her coffee business enabled her to provide for her family and send all of her children to school.  She became the first woman to be elected to Coocafé’s board.

India and Nepal

The World Fair Trade Organization conducted research on the role of women in the market and what benefits they receive from group membership and Fair Trade.  They looked the Artisans Association, ACP (Association for Craft Producers) and WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing), which are Fair Trade working projects for impoverished women in India and Nepal. The women involved were able to earn their own income in a society where women face many restrictions such as the inability to receive higher education and a lack of resources or employment options. They reported that the rare opportunity they were given allowed them to become skilled, capable craftswomen in a safe environment.  Also, the contribution they made to their household income changed their husband’s attitudes towards them, causing them to be treated with with more respect and to be given more authority.


Photo: Carol Wills

In numerous other countries around the world women are benefiting from the increase in Fair Trade initiatives.  What could be better motivation to support Fair Trade than to know that your purchases are ethical and are contributing to the ability of women worldwide to take control of their lives.


Barrow, Katie. 2010. Women, Coffee & Hope: Fair Trade is Blossoming in the Hills of Rwanda. Fair Trade USA.

FairtradeUSA. 2010. Grandmother, Coffee Farmer, Leader: Meet Donha Conceção.

Jones, Elaine. 2012. Women’s Economic Empowerment Through Fair Trade: Case Studies from India and Nepal. World Fair Trade Organization.

Photo: “Women Coffee farmers in Rwanda” from Fair Trade USA.


How to have a Fair Trade friendly Valentines Day!

6 Feb

Looking for an original way to show appreciation for your valentine this year? Commit to Fair Trade!

Here are some ideas on creative and socially responsible alternatives to the average Valentines Day gift:

1. Fair Trade Chocolate– Chocolate is an essential part of every Valentines Day, but this year consider options such as the Valentines products from Divine Chocolate, the only Fair Trade chocolate company which is 45% owned by the farmers. Company ownership gives the farmers a share of Divine’s profits and a stronger voice in the cocoa industry.  Another option, which comes in wide array of unique flavors is Alter Eco chocolate. They offer 10 different types of chocolate bars such as dark coconut toffee, dark quinoa, dark mint, and dark with crystallized orange peel. A third Fair Trade, organic option is Equal Exchange chocolate, which comes in a variety of forms and flavors, each as delicious as the next!


2. Fair Trade Flowers Many people are not aware of the exploitation that occurs within the cut flower business in order to keep costs low.  Commit to buying Fair Trade flowers this Valentines Day in order to insure that you are not contributing to the mistreatment and abuse of workers.  One wonderful option is One World Flowers, an organization that sells all Fair Trade roses and has a large selection of Valentines Day bouquets.  One of the arrangements in particular, the Helping Haiti bouquet allows you to contribute to a cause while showing appreciation for your valentine because 10% of the purchase price is given as a donation to Samaritan’s Purse relief efforts in Haiti.  Another great option if there is a Whole Foods near you is to buy their Whole Trade Guaranteed or certified organic flower arrangements.  These floral products are grown according to strict criteria for ethical trade and earth-friendly farming.

Whole Foods Whole Trade Guaranteed Flower Selection

Whole Foods Whole Trade Guaranteed Flower Selection

One World Flowers Fair Trade Bouquet

One World Flowers Fair Trade Bouquet

3. Fair Trade Wine–  A bottle of wine is another essential component of most Valentines Day celebrations, so why not make it Fair Trade? There are now Fair trade wineries in Argentina, Chile and South Africa.  Here is a list of the the Top 10 Fair Trade Wines to help you make the best selection.

4. Fair Trade Jewelry & Accessories– At Hope For Women we are offering a Valentines Day special of 15% off select purple, red and pink products, which would make perfect gifts for your valentine! If you are looking to buy specifically gold jewelry for your special someone, check out Fair Trade and Fair Mined gold from the Fairtrade Foundation.

Tagua Twigs Cuff Bracelet - Fire -

Tagua Twigs Cuff Bracelet – Fire –

Fair Trade & Fair Mined Gold

Fair Trade & Fair Mined Gold

ReStyle Men's Wallet - Red -
ReStyle Men’s Wallet – Red –

Featured Retailer: Phoenix Books

13 Oct

Hope for Women is excited to be featuring Phoenix Books this week! This incredible independent and unique book store does much more than just sell books. Phoenix Books is a business about “Cultivating Your Community” through unequaled customer service and unparalleled special order fulfillment. They are strong believers in supporting their community with donations and/or partnerships with dozens of local organizations, including Hope for Women! They also believe in collaboration, hosting events in cooperation with the Burlington Book Festival and the Champlain Valley Fair, just to name a few.

We’re thrilled to announce that Phoenix Books is carrying our whole line of Hope for Women’s Lifestyle products, including our tagua bracelets, portraits of El Salvador  and India note cards and our unique Peel Pals. They have also joined us in supporting BCA month by carrying our limited edition PINK tagua bracelets, where 5% of the proceeds will go straight to help find a cure.

We’re also happy to see that they are as excited as we are about our Hope for Women products: “Our customers and our staff at Phoenix are excited each time we receive gorgeous new bracelets and cards! It’s a rare and wonderful occurrence to know the story of who makes the products one buys. We are proud to offer Hope for Women in our book store.”

For more information on Phoenix Books, take a look at their Facebook and Twitter pages, or better yet, stop by in person! You will be greeted warmly in their authentic espresso and wine bar where you can sit back enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with friends in a truly welcoming environment.

Vermont Teddy Bear Tagua Bracelet

7 Jul

Spa Day Bear with Gourmet Tea

Nestled in the warm embrace of our beautiful green mountains, Vermont Teddy Bear Company calls Shelburne, Vermont home. With the company’s huge popularity their teddy bears have found families across the world. The creative designs and quirky characters are bound to make you smile: from Red Hot Redneck Bear to Spa Day Bear with Gourmet Tea, and many other customizable choices.

We have taken the Teddy Bear Tour just down Route 7 from Hope For Women’s headquarters at the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. This “factory,” however, more closely resembles Willy Wonka’s than Henry Ford’s. With the bright colors, spirited staff and a giant reverse-vacuum hose that stuffs bears, the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory feels like an odd (and exciting) paradise filled with flying fake fur and laughter.

Hope For Women Tagua Bracelet with Vermont Teddy Bear logo

At the gift shop (also online) you can purchase accessories for your bear as well as logo merchandise (“bear wear”) including a Hope For Women Tagua bracelet featuring the Vermont Teddy Bear signature Bear Head logo. The bracelet was made for Vermont Teddy Bear by our artisans in Colombia from Tagua, the seeds found within pods of the Ivory Nut Palm. Tagua is known as the “ivory of the rainforest” due to its exceptional carvability and since it serves as a viable alternative to elephant ivory, thus protecting those animals. The tagua seeds are harvested after they have fallen to the ground, so no harm is done to the rainforest during the production process.

So, keep an eye out for Hope For Women the next time you’re in the market for a new plush cuddle-buddy. You can know that our Bear Head logo bracelet is Eco-friendly, Fair Trade, and just darn cute! To take a look at the rest of Hope For Women’s Tagua jewelry click here, or head to our facebook page and check out how Tagua goes from seed to bead.

Independence Day

30 Jun

Red, white and blue for the big day

It won’t be long before stripes and stars make an outfit, the American National Anthem rings through parade float speakers, and the night sky explodes with light. Come Monday, patriotism will be a priority, and nationalism, a prerequisite. The Fourth of July in America is a day of celebration, and we celebrate Independence.

Independence is an amazing and powerful thing (certainly worth celebrating) but I urge against interchanging Independence for Isolation. On a day that honors everything American, I find it important to look, also, to the modern, interconnected America whose influence lacks clear borders. Because today we Skype with friends in India, do business with artisans in Colombia, and grab lunch with visitors from Spain.

So, in thinking about the fast-approaching Fourth, I also think deeply about the meaning–and the varied meanings–of Independence around the world. What does it really mean for a Nation or a community or a person to be independent?

Rosa, one of the Hope For Women artisans in Colombia

Nineteen countries celebrate their Independence this month: from Rwanda to Slovakia to Colombia, where Hope For Women artisans are working right now to create beautiful products under fair conditions. For many of these women, Independence day commemorates more than National identity. For many of them, a partnership with Hope For Women meant better health, real job security, and ultimately, personal independence.

Between today and July 20th (the day of Colombia’s National Celebration) Hope For Women will be spotlighting individual experiences of independence. We spoke with three Colombian artisans who want to share their stories with you, and each week, we will feature a new artisan tale here on our blog. Check back in with us every Tuesday to see the stories unfold.

Hope For Women wishes you a reflective, conscientious, and fun Fourth of July celebration. While you’re cuddling under the fireworks show or suiting up for a playful game of ball, take a moment to think of what this day means for you, while pondering a global perspective on independence.