A Fair Train Tour in Central and Eastern Europe…
Today we will leave on a trip to visit our Eastern and Central Europe members. In those areas Fair Trade is almost a novice, still trying to make its way, but despite obstacles and challenges all our members seem to share the same enthusiasm and motivation in spreading the word and raising awareness about Fair Trade in their countries.
Moreover, almost all of our members from the regions taken into account for this trip have already completed their journey and became guaranteed members of WFTO-Europe!
The oldest and largest Fair Trade market in Eastern Europe is the Czech Republic. As early as 1995 the Ecumenic Academy of Prague (EAP) was already trying to raise awareness about global trade and economic inequalities, holding seminars and curating publications on this topic. In those years EAP also supported the One World (Jeden svět) organization, established by a group of protestant parishes, who founded in Prague the first shop selling Fair Trade products. In 2003 EAP became the first wholesaler of Fait Trade products and one year later together with One World and OnEarth – Society for Fair Trade, they founded the Czech Association for Fair Trade.
Fairtrade Czech Republic and Slovakia
As already explained in the introduction, Fairtrade Czech Republic was founded in 2004 as an association of NGOs committed to Fair Trade, signing in 2009 a contract with Fairtrade International (FI), and becoming its first partner in Eastern Europe. In 2014 the movement grew, when two NGO’s from Slovakia joined in, turning Fairtrade Czech Republic in Fairtrade Czech Republic and Slovakia, and enlarging their outreach. Today the movement is growing and Czech Republic counts already 12 cities and almost 40 schools involved in the Fair Trade Towns and Fair Trade schools movement. If you want to know more about them have a look at their website: https://www.fairtrade-cesko.cz/
In Poland the introduction of Fair Trade is quite recent. In 2003 in Gdańsk the organisation Trzeci Świat I My, known today as the Polish Fair Trade Association (PFTA), was set up. They managed to organize some successful activities to involve the public, setting up an internet shop and encouraging shops and catering establishments to sell Fair Trade products. In 2009 nine organisations together set up the Polish Coalition for Fair Trade. On the occasion of the European elections in 2009 they urged politicians to speak up for Fair Trade.
Polish Fair Trade Association
As already stated the PFTA was established in 2003 and can be considered to be the pioneer of the Fair Trade movement in Poland. The main focus of the organization is the promotion of Fair Trade and the distribution of Fair Trade products: PFTA supplies approximately 400 points of sale across the whole country. But PFTA is promoting the movement also through education on sustainable development and coordinating Fait Trade Towns & Schools Campaigns in the country. Since 2010 PFTA has been a member of World Fair Trade Organization. Here is their website: https://www.sprawiedliwyhandel.pl/en/
Pizca del Mundo
Pizca del Mundo is our Provisional Member from Poland. It sells organic and Fair Trade coffee, hot chocolate, cocoa beans, cocoa powder, instant coffee and Brazilian yerba mate, which is then mixed with Polish herbs and dried fruits. Since they introduced their first Fair Trade product in 2012, they kept on leading their mission: selling products which come from Fair Trade certified cooperatives or plantations to ensure that ethical standards, like minimum wage, lack of child labour or forced labour, democracy in managing the cooperatives, equal rights for women and men, basic welfare or safe working conditions, are met. They always try to deliver all information about their products and their origin, to encourage the clients to critically reflect about their consumption and so that the Fair Trade movement can spread. Have a look at their website: http://www.pizcadelmundo.pl/en/
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
The Fair Trade movement in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still at its early stages. Our member BHcrafts is the first, and only, registered Fair Trade organization in the country. The knowledge on Fair Trade in the country is scarce, with absolutely no legal framework or subsidies. Our member has organized a few campaigns and continuously tries to raise awareness among consumers on social media and all other possible channels.
BHwas born with the support of non-governmental humanitarian organization Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) in 1995. In the post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina society and women were deeply traumatized: they had lost their men, their homes, and they had lost their land, in a rural, agricultural society. But they could knit, and this is how the project successfully started, as a creative, humanitarian and therapeutic journey. All of BHcrafts products, both clothing and household goods have been enthusiastically welcomed around the world. Media praise the superior quality of hand made products which cannot be produced through mass production. BHcrafts products are made with domestic raw materials, thus supporting the economy of the country. Ecological considerations are taken into account at every stage of production, using paper bags and boxes for shipping and wooden looms for weaving. Their products are a mixture of traditional methods and modern design combined to appeal to a world market.
Today it has developed into a successful and export-oriented business, which is still successfully developing. Click here to go to their website.
S.C. NetWorks Trading Srl
S.C. NetWorks Trading Srl or DECE (Romanian word meaning “Why”) was established in 2001 as part of a wider holistic program, to help to create employment for people living in situations of extreme poverty in Northwest Romania, many of whom are Roma. The first DECE product was a simple crochet hat. Crocheting needs little equipment therefore it enabled employees to work from home while also caring about their family. In 2013 DECE began to produce simple leather products that created work opportunities for men in the community and has become a significant part of the DECE story. Since then they have a growing team of skilled artisans, working both from home and in their production hubs. For more information: www.dececlothing.com