When a farmer is paid a Fair Trade price for his coffee beans, the price reflects an ethical determination of the minimum price that farmer should be paid for his product and efforts. Without fair trade, the coffee market is volatile and farmers can receive less than the cost of growing and harvesting the coffee. When you purchase Fair Trade you are a part of helping the global farmer.
Fair Trade Plus begins with the Fair Trade model but goes several steps further.
When Just Haiti, Inc. purchases coffee beans from Haitian farmers, we pay the Fair Trade price to them. The beans are shipped to our Washington D.C. location, roasted in Baltimore, packaged, labeled and shipped to our customers across the nation. When the costs of shipping, roasting, package and labeling are covered, what is left...the profit...is returned to the farmers. Just Haiti does not keep the profit. We keep 5% to cover administrative costs. We are a non-profit and the board members are all volunteers.
Ok, that's cool, right? They get the profit, not the fair trade distributor in the United States. But that is not all.
Their reports show that 55% of the profit is distributed to the farmers based on the amount of coffee sold to us and 45% is kept in the association fund.
With association funds they have purchased a scooter to help with mobility in the mountains and back and forth to Port Au Prince; they have covered medical care for an farmer when he got in an accident after an association meeting; they have paid a death benefit to the family of a farmer upon his death; in conjunction with a loan from JH they have purchased a truck to improve transportation of the growing volume of coffee to PAP for shipping; and (excitingly) they have offered low interest loans to their neighbors. There is a credit bank in the mountains of Haiti now!
Very cool! Yes, but there's more...because we pay the profit to them, they decide how to use the money to improve their economy, their towns, their country.
So, Fair Trade Plus sends the profit back to the growers, develops a business model with accountability and transparency, encourages community improvement and investment, and gives the farmers more money in their pockets than Fair Trade alone can give them. Matter of fact, when the FT price of coffee reached $2.25/lb in 2013, our JH association farmers received close to $5/lb with profit returns!
That's how you change a system of poverty! Not just handing them more money, but by empowering them to make the decisions on how to use the money for the betterment of their neighbor and country.
I'll never forget the first time I traveled to Haiti and met with the coffee growers of Baraderas. "Because I get paid such a good price for my coffee, I plant all coffee now and buy food for my family from my neighbor," said one farmer. THAT is the very definition of 'economy'.
"I can pay for my children's school fees now and purchase their supplies," said another farmer, a woman. THAT is the very definition of 'empowerment.'
"I used to not care about the land I inherited. But now that I make so much money on coffee I take care of it and plant more trees to shade the coffee." THAT is the very definition of changing 'root causes' of deforestation and poverty.
Fair Trade Plus is a business model that changes systems of poverty.
It's like Fair Trade, only better!
Be a part of a solution! Drink coffee, grow Justice!