Since the establishment of Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans (BFTA) in 2009, we have worked to improve the livelihood of Palestinian marginalized producers through Fair Trade. BFTA aims at finding new market outlets to promote and sell artisans products. Today, BFTA is an umbrella of major support for: 53 Family-owned Olive Wood workshops, Ceramics and Blown Glass factories, Women’s cooperatives across Palestine working with Embroidery, Recycled Glass, Basket-weaving and Jewelry making, and 4 disabled groups making Felt Wool products and recycled cards.
BFTA empowers its artisans not through only marketing and selling their products, but also in educating them. In the past, BFTA has offered plenty of courses from basic English and IT computer courses to Quality Management and Control, Pricing courses, Basket-Weaving and Embroidery for women, and BFTA continues to offer this kind of support to all artisans in need.
Our organization is driven to success because it is held on the basis of Fair Trade. Our secret ingredient to success is the way we market and sell artisans products; fairly traded and sold at international markets. The dedication and commitment BFTA staff shares among the organization are crucial elements for our success. The staff works hand-in-hand cooperating and collaborating on a daily basis; BFTA’s team work is what truly drives its success. BFTA can’t deny the efforts that volunteers contribute to the organization. We constantly receive volunteers who are eager to help us and who share the spirit of our organization. Last but not least, we could have never reached the success we have without the support of our artisans. This was shown in the peer visit and the audit report as the artisans were very pleased at the efforts of our organization and expressed how happy and confident they are of our organization’s path.
Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans have contributed to the country through creating an international market and stabilizing artisan’s income for the long term. Fair Trade is more than just offering a fair price, it’s caring for our environment, monitoring health and safety in the production process and raising awareness in our country about fair trade. In the year 2012, BFTA hosted a major event at the heart of Bethlehem celebrating the World Fair Trade Day. The event was promoted all across Palestine and Israel. This event was to enlighten people’s path and show them this bright future Fair Trade can offer them with. This event helped BFTA become well-known across Palestine as a Fair Trade organization and lead many producers to recognize the work of BFTA. Following that event, a lot of producers showed interest in our work and wanted to be a part of this “new” concept of Fair Trade. Through Fair Trade we aim at promoting peace as well, and since our work involves artisans’ handicrafts we aimed at promoting peace through this beautiful art. Living in this instable political situation caused many artisans to have very low income and not be recognized for their beautiful hand-made products. For that reason, BFTA took a stand to promote peace through “Fair Trade, Fair Peace” project which included artisans from both Palestine and Israel. Bringing the two countries’ talents together surely spreads some peace around and allows for Fair Trade to reach beyond the separation wall promoting peace and tranquility.
Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans, as of 2015, is proud to be the first Guaranteed Members of the WFTO in Palestine. This is more than just being able to use the WFTO guaranteed label on our products, it means more credibility. We are now viewed as part of an international organization that solely runs on the basis of fair trading. It opens new markets for us and ensures following the path of Fair Trade as we are now inclined to audit reports. It gives an incentive for BFTA to continue monitoring and improving the overall well-being of its artisans (from their working conditions to their view about Fair Trade). Being Guaranteed Members of the WFTO is not merely an opportunity but rather a way of life for the organization and the country.
BFTA would also like to share with the readers our goals for the time-being. Our main focus for the next two years is to empower women and thus precisely promote their products and help women in reaching the fullest potential at making products. We want to empower women through providing them with training courses they need to produce better quality products that can be marketed internationally. Our aim for women artisans is basically product development.
For any Fair Trade partners who are interested in helping us support these marginalized women artisans, we urge you to contact us. We are very open to receiving ideas of how we can empower these women and we welcome any contribution to our project of product development for Palestinian women.
Please check out their new website which included information about different artisans groups, BFTA’s staff, and shows all our product categories with the name of each artisan pinned next to their products.
Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans will continue to find new markets to promote more of their artisans’ hand-made beautiful products. We are an umbrella holding all these talents within us, help us keep this tradition alive and spread the word!