Dear Fair Trade Friends,
Thank you for your interest in FairTradeDirect.com. It's really exciting to double the income of the talented and hardworking artisans and farmers that already supply the fair trade crafts and food items we all love so much. And also being able to raise funds for our favorite charity makes it even better!
As a half-Colombian, I've always strived to maximize the benefits (read income) to grass roots producers in developing countries. In 1978, Marijke (my lovely wife) and I first launched the ground-breaking "alternative trade organization" (as fair trade was called then) Pueblo to People while living in Guatemala working for a United Nations research institute (details) . Even in the face of the Central American war, "P2P" grew to sell 3.5 millions dollars a year of fair trade crafts and food items. We pioneered the first fair trade mail order catalog and coffee imports - our success inspired many fair traders.
However, logistics back then were very complicated and the cost of mailing millions of catalogs restricted us from paying the producers any more than other fair trade importers - about 15% of the final price. As a trained economist and systems analyst, this was very frustrating.
So you can just imagine my elation when the e-commerce first appeared. In 1994, I quit my job at the American Association for the Advancement of Science and launched PEOPLink.org, a non-profit with the first online international crafts catalog (details). However, I soon realized the huge potential Internet to enable the producers to bypass all the middlemen (including ourselves) if they had the proper tools. So in 2000 began working on our www.OpenEntry.come-commerce platform.
After developing several versions of OpenEntry and test flying it by implementing it in 44 countries, in January of 2009, we re-launched it using the latest "cloud computing" technology. Because the catalog generator is based on Google tools and servers, we are offering grass roots producers worldwide, totally free (software, hosting, user support) e-commerce catalogs.
But what the producers need is not so much a tool as real sales at decent prices of the wonderful items they produce. So in September of 2009, we launched FairTradeDirect.com to connect the fair trade producers directly to buyers like you.
11112 Midvale Road
Kensington, MD 20895, USA