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Our Movement

Who we are

The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is the global community and verifier of enterprises that fully practise Fair Trade.

We are an association of visionary Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that believes that a new economy is possible: together, we stand as a collective of entrepreneurial activists and changemakers who are at the forefront of advocating for an equitable and sustainable world.

Fair Trade Enterprises are changing the way business is done on a global scale. Active throughout 84 countries, with more than 1 million livelihoods impacted from North to South, they are demonstrating a viable alternative to the current exploitative businesses by prioritising social and environmental sustainability, alongside with economic success.

From fashion to houseware, from food to beauty products, we are transforming the industry, by upscaling the number of Fair Trade Enterprise and phasing out the unsustainable business practices. As a global membership organisation, we are dedicated to supporting our members in achieving their goals and enabling them to increase their ethical markets. They do this by producing high-quality products, with respect for workers and the environment. As a movement, we are also amplifying our voice as Fair Trade entrepreneurs to change (international) policies to promote Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

Who We are 2

With our Guarantee System, we ensure that businesses maintain the highest standards of sustainability, encompassing both environmental and social aspects.

Our aim is to gain a comprehensive understanding of how an enterprise operates, taking into account various factors such as production processes, supply chains, and stakeholder relationships. Our verification label represents the commitment of such enterprises, and the rigorous evaluation process they went through.

What sets us apart is our holistic approach that goes beyond assessing a single commodity. We thoroughly examine the entire business, seeking to understand the model employed by the enterprise. We strive to comprehend the underlying principles and values that guide the enterprise's operations. This allows us to assess not only the product itself but also the practices and methodologies employed throughout the entire value chain. A Guaranteed WFTO member is fully practising all the 10 Fair Trade Principles.

Our commitment to understanding the broader context in which a business operates enables us to address systemic issues and promote positive change. Through our rigorous evaluation process, we guide and encourage businesses to adopt sustainable practices that align with our required and highest standards in both environmental stewardship and social impact.

What we stand for

We believe that an alternative way of doing business is possible. And we don’t simply believe that: we are seeing purpose-driven entrepreneurs and activists doing it every day. Our organisation works to support Fair Trade Enterprises to change the economy, globally.

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WFTO members are pioneers with a clear vision of what the economy should look like: one where profit-making does not come before the wellbeing of the people and the planet. They significantly differ from conventional profit-maximising models by embracing a triple bottom line that encompasses the well-being of people, the preservation of the planet, and the pursuit of sustainable profit.

It is our responsibility to build a new economy and advocate for one that prioritises justice on all levels. That’s why our aim is to support a profound transformation through the influential force of Fair Trade Enterprises.

OUR HOLISTIC APPROACH TO ACHIEVE JUSTICE

Addressing structural issues in the current economy requires a holistic understanding and approach to challenges. Systemic problems in supply chains necessitate multi-faceted solutions. Unfair wages, environmental degradation, lack of transparency and accountability, forced labour, and poor working conditions are all integral elements of today’s economy. To drive systemic change, businesses must embrace holistic strategies and acknowledge that there is an alternative to profit-centric models. That’s why we use our Fair Trade Principles as a comprehensive guide for sustainable business practices, paving the way for a more equitable and responsible economic landscape towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

BUSINESSES, NOT CHARITY

The Fair Trade business model challenges conventional commerce, transcending charity with a transformative approach. We aim for customers, buyers, and retailers to choose our products for their trust in our unwavering commitment to sustainability and exceptional quality. Our reputation as trusted entrepreneurs dedicated to excellence drives our desire to be the preferred choice in the marketplace.

A GLOBAL REVOLUTION / THINKING GLOBAL

Our 10 Fair Trade Principles extend beyond the Global South, providing a universal blueprint for ethical business practises. While the Global South faces unique challenges stemming from poverty and exploitation, our principles are applicable and vital in all regions. Fair Trade business models transcend borders, urging a transformative shift in the global and local economies. They inspire entrepreneurs, consumers, and policymakers to prioritise social and environmental responsibility, fostering a more just and sustainable approach to commerce on both global and local levels. We are verifying the businesses that choose to be part of this #BusinessRevolution.

A LOCAL REVOLUTION / ACTING LOCAL

Fair Trade Enterprises, and especially SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), promote robust local economies by emphasising direct trade relationships and retaining a larger portion of revenue within communities. This not only restores trade power dynamics, but it also generates increased income for producers and enables investments in vital local services. Embracing North to North and South to South markets reduces dependence on import-export dynamics, less CO2-emissions and fostering resilient and sustainable local economies. By supporting Fair Trade Enterprises, individuals contribute to regional self-sufficiency, economic justice, and a better quality of life, laying the groundwork for fair economies  globally.

PROFIT-MAKING VS PROFIT-MAXIMISING / AGAINST PROFIT “AT ALL COSTS”

Fair Trade Enterprises challenge the profit-maximisation mindset by demonstrating that ethical business practises can be commercially viable. WFTO members prioritise social and environmental impacts alongside financial success, emphasising the well-being of producers and the environment. By finding a balance between profitability and ethical responsibility, Fair Trade Enterprises show that long-term success is intertwined with sustainable practises and positive social outcomes, promoting a more equitable world.

Our Theory of Change

How our economy is set up at the moment is not working. Neither for the planet nor for the people. We believe that our current economic system is by its foundation extractivist, hindering equitable distribution of wealth, perpetuating social and economic inequality, and speeding environmental degradation at an alarming pace. Businesses nowadays keep prioritising short-term profit over long-term sustainability: they want to produce more and more to transfer to the shareholders, careless of who or what is paying the price for it.

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Our solution

our solution 1

For new business practises to flourish, we need a dramatic change in the shape of businesses actors operating in the economy. We need business models, not only products, that are sustainable and future-proof.

Radical and visionary actors are crucial in replacing broken economic models. Fair Trade Enterprises are catalysing change by saying no to extractivism, exploitation and inequality. They believe in different, new economic models and work everyday to make it happen. And they do it by embracing alternative business models.

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When Fair Trade Enterprises lead the way with their ethical and sustainable business models, they set an example for the transformation needed in the broader economy. Their commitment to fair wages, equitable practises, environmental stewardship, and community development showcases that businesses can thrive while prioritising social and environmental impact. By adopting similar principles and practises, businesses can contribute to different economic systems that protect the planet, and gives value to all the stakeholders involved.

Our solution

For new business practices to flourish, we need a dramatic change in the shape of businesses actors operating in the economy. We need business models, not only products, that are sustainable and future-proof.

Radical and visionary actors are crucial in replacing broken economic models. Fair Trade Enterprises are catalysing change by saying no to extractivism, exploitation and inequality. They believe in different, new economic models and work everyday to make it happen. And they do it by embracing alternative business models.

When Fair Trade Enterprises lead the way with their ethical and sustainable business models, they set an example for the transformation needed in the broader economy. Their commitment to fair wages, equitable practices, environmental stewardship, and community development showcases that businesses can thrive while prioritising social and environmental impact. By adopting similar principles and practices, businesses can contribute to different economic systems that protect the planet, and gives value to all the stakeholders involved.

Do you want to join our movement?

Our Allies

Our commitment to ethical practises goes beyond Fair Trade Enterprises. Through strategic collaborations, we strive to create meaningful alliances that amplify our collective efforts in building a more equitable global economy. By joining forces with visionary organisations, we merge expertise and ignite innovative solutions. These alliances empower us to extend our impact far beyond what we can achieve alone.

Join us on this transformative journey as we harness the strength of collaboration working towards a business revolution.

Common Objective

Common Objective

eBay For Change

eBay For Change

Exeter University

Exeter University

GoodMarket

GoodMarket

Powered by People

Powered by People

THUAS University

THUAS University

Fair Trade Advocacy Office

Fair Trade Advocacy Office

Fashion Revolution

Fashion Revolution

Green Economy Coalition

Green Economy Coalition

Slow Fashion Movement

Slow Fashion Movement

Environmental Solutions

Environmental Solutions

Representing Fair Trade Enterprises

In addition to our role as a global membership organisation, WFTO is actively engaged in advocacy efforts to promote fair trading practises and influence policy change on multiple fronts. We recognise that advocacy is a crucial means of advancing our vision of a more equitable and sustainable global economy.

Our efforts focus on a range of issues related to trade, development, sustainability, and consumer protection. We actively participate in policy consultations, policy dialogue forums, and stakeholder engagements, ensuring that the perspectives and needs of Fair Trade Enterprises are effectively represented. That’s why WFTO is taking action in various advocacy initiatives, including research, awareness-raising campaigns, and direct engagement with policymakers, to promote policies that prioritise social and environmental sustainability.

Represented by the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, WFTO is taking part in policy advocacy at the European Union level. The FTAO serves as the main advocacy body for Fair Trade within the EU institutions, working towards policy changes that support and advance the principles of Fair Trade. Beyond the EU, WFTO collaborates with like-minded organisations, civil society groups, and stakeholders globally to advocate for fair trading practices and policy changes that benefit Fair Trade Enterprises. This includes participating in international forums, conferences, and campaigns to raise awareness about Fair Trade and advocate for fair trade practices and sustainable consumption and production  (SCP) on a global scale. WFTO is an accredited organisation for UNEP, and member of the Major Group of Business & Industry.

The history of the Fair Trade movement

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1989
The World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO), formerly IFAT, was founded.
1989
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1970s - 1980s
Fair Trade Enterprises worldwide began to meet informally in conferences, which eventually formalised into two organisations (EFTA and IFAT).
1970s - 1980s
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1964
The first Fair Trade Enterprise was established in Oxfam UK, which started retailing products that were manufactured by Chinese refugees.
1964
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1958
The first formal "Fair Trade" shop where products, almost exclusively handicrafts ranging from jute goods to cross-stitch work, was established in the USA.
1958
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1946
After the second world war, different solidarity initiatives (some with religious purposes) emerged with an aim to support specific populations.

These initiatives were labelled as "alternative trade".
1946
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WFTO Membership & Associate Types

  • Fair Trade Organisations (FTO)

    All trading members of WFTO. This includes all organisations that have more than half of their income and/or more than €100,000 in income from trade.

  • Fair Trade Support Organisations (FTSO)

    An organisation whose primary mission is to support Fair Trade and/or provide services to organisations that are or want to become Fair Trade Organisations.

  • Fair Trade Networks (FTN)

    An organisation which is an association of organisations committed to Fair Trade.

  • Individual Associates (IA)

    Individual Associates are supporters of the Fair Trade movement with limited rights. The WFTO Guarantee System does not apply to them.

  • Associate Organisations (AO)

    Associate Organisations align with WFTO’s values but after their application. They do not undergo monitoring and also have limited rights.

WFTO Guarantee System Monitoring Statuses

  • Candidates

    Candidates have been conditionally approved for membership but have not completed their first monitoring cycle under the WFTO Guarantee System. They have limited rights within WFTO. They may not use the WFTO Member Mark and Product Label or claim that they are monitored by WFTO.

  • Guaranteed Members

    Guaranteed members have met the WFTO Membership requirements and are monitored under the WFTO Guarantee System.

  • Member

    Organisations that have no or little income from trade go through a reduced version of the WFTO Guarantee System that does not include criteria related to trade. These organisations may use the WFTO Member Mark but cannot use the Product Label for any products they may be trading to support their mission. This status only applies to Fair Trade Networks (FTN) and Support Organisations (FTSO).

  • Renewal in Progress

    Members who are in the process of renewing their guaranteed status and are overdue on some requirements retain full rights while they work to meet the demands of the Guarantee System on an administrative or compliance level.

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WHO CAN APPLY

WFTO welcomes applications from established Fair Trade Organisations as well as organisations that support Fair Trade. Individuals in their capacity as researchers, writers, consultants and specialists in their field who can contribute solid skills, knowledge and expertise to WFTO and members are also welcome.

Add Your Heading Text Initial requirements for organisations:

  • Compliance with the WFTO 10 Principles of Fair Trade. Please have a look at the WFTO Fair Trade Standard for more specific information on compliance with these principles.

  • All applicant organisations must already be duly registered (as a legal entity) and active for at least one year.

Who can apply?

  • Fair Trade Organisations (FTO)

    All companies, partnerships, co-partnerships and other legal bodies – as determined by the legal provisions of the country of the member concerned – that are directly engaged in Fair Trade. They may be producers or northern or southern based trading FTOs for whom Fair Trade is the main activity. To qualify for FTO membership, income from sales (turnover) must account for 50% or more of the total income. Applications for FTO membership cannot be accepted from organisations with no prior sales history.

  • Fair Trade Networks (FTN)

    Legal entities whose primary function is to serve as national or international associations of Fair Trade producers and/or Fair Trade Organisations.

  • Fair Trade Support Organisations (FTSO)

    Fair Trade Organisations where trading is not the main activity (proportion of trade is less than 50% of total income). These organisations are engaged in Fair Trade indirectly, through activities that promote and support Fair Trade. These activities can include business counselling, finance, advocacy or networking.

  • Associate Organisations

    This is a special category for national or international organisations that are interested in supporting and promoting Fair Trade, including donor organisations. Organisations that do not meet the one-year legal existence requirement also fit in this group.

  • Individual Associates

    Individual researchers, writers, consultants and specialists in their field that can support WFTO. WFTO expects its individual associates to be active Fair Trade supporters whose experience and expertise in their own particular field can be of practical benefit to WFTO's members. To apply, please submit a curriculum vitae.

    While FTO, FTN and FTSO are entitled to full WFTO membership, organizational and individual associates have only limited rights.

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OUR PRODUCT LABEL

The WFTO Product Label is more than just a Fair Trade symbol. It signifies not only that the practices across the supply chain are checked against the WFTO Fair Trade Standard, but it also represents support to the battle against poverty and inequality. Products carrying the WFTO Label are made and traded by Guaranteed Fair Trade Organisations dedicated to the sustainable Fair Trade economy. Every purchase of products with the WFTO Label supports small producers and their communities.

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