Though the use of trade in an ethical, responsible, life-improving way, the company Aid Though Trade is helping the producers of hand-crafts from poorer developing countries. By “aiding” through alternative “trade” they believe they can really make a difference in people’s lives.
Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU)
Aid Though Trade has identified that by using ethical and responsible trade practices, they can change the lives of the producers of hand crafts dramatically. This is especially the case for women, who through means of income were able to be empowered in their communities and their homes in ways they never have before. Additionally, the company has been able to boast that Aid Though Trade is the creator of the original Roll-on Bracelet, and that it is still the only roll-on bracelet that is authentically Fairtrade. Aid Though Trade creates designs at a frequent rate, something their founder identified as an important aspect of creating a sustainable fashion related business. These designs are inspired by the Design team’s frequent trips to Nepal. Aid Through Trade maintains an office and studio space in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal with fifteen full time artisans. From this location they also facilitate training, production and quality control. The company additionally works with over 200 artisans in three village sites throughout Nepal.
Founder and CEO, Damien Jones was kind enough to interview for this project. He explained that after living in remote villages of Nepal for almost six years mostly as a Peace Corps volunteer, he saw how individuals were getting wealthy from the business of international development but poor persons were not really benefiting. He realized that to really help those people they needed to be involved with ethical business. Business that treated the local artisans fairly and could empower them in a sustainable way, genuinely independent of charity aid that could go up or down, or end at any time. Mr. Jones explained that international aid money was not enabling change for the poorest of the poor anyway, so in 1993 he founded Aid Through Trade and traveled back to Nepal three times within a one-year period looking for ethically managed artisan groups or independent artisans. He settled on six different producer groups at that time and began purchasing and importing their handcrafts. Then he drove around to shops and introduced himself looking for feedback and to make his initial sales.
For 25 years now, Aid Through Trade has been helping to improve the quality of life for people who would not have been able to do it on their own. As one of the founding members of the Fair-Trade Federation, they are committed to their very root in helping to further the cause of cultivating ethical business and ethical trade practice.
The impact of the company’s mission on business can be seen in a few ways. One aspect of impact is that the union between the company and the artisans produces high quality, unique hand made items that give buyers satisfaction in knowing their purchase helped to empower a woman from another country. In this case positive consumer sentiment helps with the sustainability of the business. Aid Through Trade surely understands this, as they have featured profiles of 48 of their artisans right on their website, so potential customers can see the faces of people they are helping. Another form of impact is on the employees, who, as Mr. Jones explains, are given a sense of purpose, understanding that their efforts are contributing to a higher goal. He went on to say that one of the most important points of impact for their business is that they always have a constantly evolving and interesting story, since their mission is about bettering people’s lives. He says that artisan lives are changing, and their family life is improving.
Mr. Jones explains that the impact on society is that women are making purchasing decisions. Most of the women artisans never had an opportunity to purchase for their families before. These women do not have to ask for their husbands for money in order to run the household. Many of them have told the employees of Aid Through Trade their husbands have asked them for money, and that it has been a very empowering experience for them.
Mr. Jones went on to say that they have a lot of evidence of very powerful outcomes. On a visit last year, he met a former child slave who, once she turned 16 made bracelets for Aid Through Trade while continuing with high school. She had a dream. That dream was to own a shop. She got an opportunity to go to a training course on running a business and got a small loan too, but the majority of the money she used to start the shop was from the money she had saved making bracelets. She now runs a shop that makes hot snacks, sells hot tea and various sundry objects. She is happy and grateful. She repeatedly told him, “what you did was a good thing.” Meaning bringing the training and the option to make bracelets to her. Without opportunities for the poor to get involved with ethical trade, this kind of change would not be possible.
Damian Jones, Founder and CEO
Keep this story going! Share below!
Annapolis, MD, US
Business Website: https://www.aidthroughtrade.com/
Year Founded: 1993
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Their Mission is to connect the beautiful jewelry produced by female artisans in Nepal with potential buyers all over the world under the promise of Fairtrade, ethics and prosperity for everyone involved.