Traidcraft was established 40 years ago in 1979 and it was the pioneer of Fairtrade.
Its slogan of “Fighting poverty through trade” gave it its mission of seeking out small producers and helping them develop better production methods and ensuring they had a fair price for their products.
We tend to forget that Traidcraft is a business and though never intending to make large profits, by last summer, like so many other commercial companies, its losses were so great that it was decided that Traidcraft would cease trading.
This news caused such dismay among its many Fair traders and supporters that a new business model was worked out to see if this could save the company.
As a first step it involved reducing its staff from 64 to 12; selling their warehouse and offices in Gateshead and having a sale of all their craft goods.
In its new form, Traidcraft will sell mainly food products and only those craft items which have already been purchased by another fairtrading company.
This will cut out transportation costs and the losses which are made when craft goods bought are imperfect and not suitable for sale.
However, this meant that Traidcraft could no longer buy directly from its small producers, which was a devastating blow for all concerned. New outlets have now been found for most of these small producers and this process continues.
Traidcraft’s new business model is based on a transparent trading system which means that the buyer will know where each of the ingredients or materials used in the product comes from and that at each step of production a fair price was paid.
Just as Traidcraft was a pioneer of Fairtrade it is now intending to be a pioneer of this new business model.
Traidcraft has not abandoned its original mission to help small producers. This work is still carried out by Traidcraft Exchange, which is the fundraising arm of Traidcraft though financially quite separate from the business. It will still continue to help small producers and help them find new outlets for their products.