Living the Alternative!
Since its establishment in 1975 EZA Fairer Handel has practised Fair Trade, proving that there is an alternative to conventional trade. Our wide range of products – foodstuffs, handicrafts, cosmetics and Fair Fashion – are reflecting the creativity and know-how of our 160 partner organisations in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.
Direct exchange with EZA trading partners and producers’ representatives is a fundamental aspect of our trade, as it helps consolidate our relationships, which go far beyond the mere purchase and sale of products, enabling both sides to reflect on, and further develop, the trading partnership. Therefore we try to visit as many of our partners in the South as possible. Additionally we regularly invite them to participate in our producer visiting programmes, conferences and seminars in Austria. This enables consumers to get first-hand information about the impact and functioning of Fair Trade. At the same time our producer partners learn a lot about the Austrian reality of Fair Trade and the market for their products.
EZA plays an active role in European and international networks such as the European Fair Trade Association and the World Fair Trade Organisation since we have been one of the co-founding members of both networks. In the latest self-assessment, which has to be done by each WFTO-member, EZA has volunteered to test the new self-assessment procedure as a kind of pilot project. Additionally EZA included a new approach into its self-assessment and included a feedback mechanism for its partner organisations in the Global South. Our partners’ feedback on our self-assessment has been mainly positive, but has also spurred us to fine-tune the communication of our policies towards our partners.
EZA also takes part in the Austrian Fair Trade Forum in order to join forces and lobby for more fairness in business and trade. Educational work is done to increase awareness about Fair and Unfair Trade. Invited by the Clean Clothes Campaign, EZA joined the Clean Clothes platform in Austria. For EZA, this network is important primarily with regard to our activities in the area of Fair Fashion. We believe that it is not enough to offer concrete, practical alternatives in the clothing sector – as we do with our fashion label Anukoo.(see: www.anukoo.com) It is also important to show the different ways how intolerable conditions in the textile industry can be actively combated.
Transparency and solidarity, international orientation and fairness continue to be the cornerstones of our philosophy. We are quite aware of the fact that our type of trade means swimming against the tide. But together with our partners in the Global South and the Worldshops as our strongest allies to reach the goal of expanding Fair Trade we’re more than ready to meet this challenge.