Who We Are

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
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.

The history of the Fair Trade movement

History wfto 1946 v2 e1693726299373
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".
History wfto 1958 e1693726421636
The first formal "Fair Trade" shop where products, almost exclusively handicrafts ranging from jute goods to cross-stitch work, was established in the USA.
History wfto 1964 e1693726449405
The first Fair Trade Enterprise was established in Oxfam UK, which started retailing products that were manufactured by Chinese refugees.
History wfto 1970s 1980s e1693726564212
1970s - 1980s
Fair Trade Enterprises worldwide began to meet informally in conferences, which eventually formalised into two organisations (EFTA and IFAT).
1970s - 1980s
History wfto 1989 e1693726594308
The World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO), formerly IFAT, was founded.

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17th international


17-20 SEPT 2024 – CAPE TOWN 

We are thrilled to invite you to our upcoming International Fair Trade Summit, set to take place in the vibrant city of Cape Town, from the 17th to the 20th of September 2024.

The International Fair Trade Summit aims to bring together leaders, practitioners, and advocates from all corners of the globe to collaborate and promote Fair Trade practices. This edition promises to be a unique opportunity for participants to engage in enlightening discussions, exchange ideas, and forge partnerships that will shape the future of Fair Trade.

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.

Become an Impact Ally

Collaboration is key to successful transformation, meaningful impact, and our movement

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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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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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