When we talk to people about fair trade, it can sometimes be hard to get across the many different ways fair trade can impact a maker’s life. Despite the inherent complexity, fair trading relationships, not charitable ones, are the foundation we’ve built Ten Thousand Villages on. Unlike charity, fair trade isn’t working to provide one specific thing like shoes, or food, or clothing. Instead, fair trade empowers. And empowerment is a lot harder to quantify.
Through a relationship with Ten Thousand Villages, makers are able to change their own lives, and the change takes many forms. For a few workshops in India working with Noah’s Ark, fair trading relationships have led to new, quality schools and teachers for the children in the community. Other groups are able to build sanitary, reliable freshwater wells. Still others provide childcare for their workers, or trustworthy banking services, or cash advances for startup businesses.
Measuring the impact of hundreds of local projects, down to every last school uniform and home improvement, is just about impossible. But trying to measure every benefit isn’t why we do what we do. At its core, our fair trading relationships are built on mutual trust. We believe that our maker partners deserve to work in a safe, healthy environment, and deserve to be paid a wage that helps them improve their standard of living. We also believe that when it comes to making decisions about how best to improve makers’ lives, we are not the experts. We think that the people most able to identify the areas of need are the makers themselves.
All that said, when we look back at 2016, there are a few things we can quantify that we think really stand out.
It’s no small feat co-ordinating imports from 27 different countries around the world. This year, we’ve had to deal with political instability and fuel crises that have delayed shipments, as well as a changing climate disrupting formerly predictable weather patterns around the world.
Groups Partnered with: 78
What we call a group can be a single workshop working directly with us, or dozens banded together to coordinate their exports, improve quality control, and warehouse overstock. This year, we were most excited about adding the group Aspiration International, manufacturer of copper kitchenware. Expect more from them in 2017.
Workshops Supported: 250+
250 is an average. Many of our partner groups adapt to demand, enlisting certain workshops only when needed. Many groups will have a single main workshop that acts more like a depot for employees to pick up supplies and drop off finished products that they’ve completed at home, on a schedule that lets them raise their children, contribute to a family business, or grow food. If we included every home-based workshops in this number, it wouldn’t be 250 – it would be well into the thousands.
Stores in Canada: 37
Community Events: 76
With new Ontario opportunities in St. Jacob’s, Oshawa, and Port Rowan, and 76 events in communities across the country (including 36 in Atlantic Canada!), 2016 was a time when we tried new things in new places. We’ll continue to make Villages easier for Canadians to find in 2017.
Many people are surprised by the number of volunteers who regularly volunteer 5, 10, or 20 hours a month helping Ten Thousand Villages achieve its mission. Our volunteers remain the lifeblood of our organization, and we couldn’t do what we do without them. Next time you visit a store, be sure to thank a volunteer!
Donations to MCC through Villages: $122,000
Every holiday season, we partner with MCC on the Christmas Giving program. This year, you donated $122,000 for families and communities in need around the globe.
Raised for Haiti after the Hurricane: $5800
When a Hurricane Matthew, the first category-five hurricane since 2007, hit Haiti in late September, we worked quickly to respond. With your help, we donated $5800 to disaster response.
New Products in 2016: 635
We’re constantly updating our collections, working with our artisan partners and other fair trade organizations around the world to develop contemporary items that fit the skills, tools, and traditions of our maker-partners. This year, we brought in 635 new products, ranging from subtle twists on old favourites to things we’ve never tried before, like the Recycled Sari Duvet cover.
Socks sold: 5200
Our new fair trade socks, brought in through our partner Conscious Step, were a smash hit this Christmas. In a little over 2 months, we sold over 5000 pairs. Besides being completely fair trade, each sock sold had a benefit.
Products Purchased from Makers at a Fair Price:
We are a non-profit. Our mission is to bring products to Canada to give makers access to markets they would otherwise not have. In other words, the bigger this number is, the better, because it means more meaningful work for skilled makers around the world. At the end of the day, that’s why we at Ten Thousand Villages do what we do.Thanks for your support during a great 2016. Together, we’ll make 2017 even better.