are not your typical retailer. We are a non-profit, social enterprise following
the basic principles of fair trade. One of the key principles of fair trade is micro-financing.
many of the communities that we work with, banking services are scarce and
interest rates are excessively high. These financial barriers prevent maker
groups from taking out loans to purchase materials they need to make their products.
In an effort to reduce these financial blocks for makers and their families, we
pay 50% of our invoice when we submit an order. We then pay the remaining 50% when
we receive confirmation that the products have shipped. At times, this means
that we could pay for products that we won’t actually sell for 6-12 months.
However, this process relieves the financial burden for makers and their
families, giving them the freedom to purchase materials they need to create
their products, and in turn, allowing them to continue earning a fair wage for
“I am sincerely grateful toward Ten
Thousand Villages Canada. The orders they send us allow us to provide for
all that being said, we are proud and excited to introduce Giving Change. We
developed the Giving Change program so we could continue to offer this interest-free
micro-financing program to the groups we work with. Your donations will support
our efforts to bridge the monetary gap between production and sale, and empower
makers around the world, like Ahmed, through micro-financing.
you for supporting our Giving Change program, our mission and our commitment to
socially conscious retail. We believe that all people deserve to earn a fair
and stable income – and we couldn’t do it without the support of our valued
To make a contribution to Giving Change, please visit our website.
Happy first day of fall! Here at Ten Thousand Villages, we’re
a little sad that summer days are over but we’re excited for all the fall
things that autumn brings like pumpkin spice lattes, sweater weather and scary
movies. With Thanksgiving dinners and Halloween parties approaching, fall is also
a great time to refresh your home! Here are some tips for giving your home a cozy,
Baskets are great because not only do they add a rustic, fall touch to your living room but they double as storage space too. Elle Décor suggests warming up a room with “cozy accessories such as pillow-and-throw-filled baskets.”
Keep your feet warm on hardwood floors and add a decorative touch to your kitchen or family room with a rug. House and Home says that a standout rug is like “artwork for your floor.” They believe that a standout rug “pulls the room together, interjecting life and personality into the space.”
Add warmth and decoration to your living room or bedroom with a fringe throw, blanket or quilt. Country Living encourages homeowners to “find throws with different textures and colours for a bit of visual variety.”
This fall, trade colourful summer flowers in for a statement plant. House and Home says a statement plant “creates major impact – especially when potted in a standout planter.”
Candles are an easy way to add those fall vibes to your home. Shutterfly says that candles give homes “rustic charm.” For Halloween, add pumpkins and pinecones to your candle display.
Do you have
any fall decorating tips? Let us know how you decorate your home for fall in
the comments below!
Jewellery-making has been an important tradition of the Tuareg
nomads for centuries. In 1993, a group of young people in Terhazer, a village
near Agadez, the largest city of northern Niger, began crafting leather
products and silver jewellery by hand. After travelling through France and
selling their handicrafts from backpacks for several years, Illies Mouhmoud and
his friends began The Union of Peasants (UPAP) in 1999 to help artisans and rural
Today, UPAP is an organization of 170 skilled Tuareg silver
jewellers and leatherworkers. The Tuareg people inhabit the Saharan regions of
North Africa, such as Niger, Mali, Libya, Algeria and Burkina Faso. Dressed in
blue robes, they sit beneath airy tents in the desert and create breathtaking
pieces of art using a lost-wax method with the same simple tools and techniques
of their ancestors. Sometimes, Tuareg people are called the “blue
people” because their traditional coloured clothing stains their skin. Tuareg
artisans use income from craft production to supplement their subsistence
farming. This income has enabled villages to build and equip schools, pay for
medicine, ensure safer births and build wells.
Illies Mouhmoud is a master silver artisan in crafting traditional
Tuareg jewelry. Using a lost-wax method to cast the silver, Mouhmoud first
creates a wax mold, forms clay around the mold and then pours molten silver
into the hardened clay. Using hand tools, he etches traditional designs and
adds ebony inlay or jewels to create the finished piece.
Traditionally, the etchings represented safe trade routes. Similar to a
map, the open spaces represented a ‘no go’ zone while the etchings were the
routes. Today, the traditional techniques are used for artistic purposes and
of Tuareg jewellery is believed to bring good luck.
Thankful for their customers, Mouhmoud said, “Your purchases have helped us stay in our homes, to stay where we live, where we were born and where our parents and grandparents were born.” Visit our website to browse our entire collection of beautiful Tuareg jewellery.
Did you know that there are 10 principles essential to fair trade? According to the The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), “the 10 Principles of Fair Trade specify the ways that Fair Trade Enterprises are set up and behave to ensure they put people and the planet first.” At Ten Thousand Villages, we are trying to make the world a better place. Here are the ten principles that help us do just that:
Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers
We create opportunities for makers in developing countries to earn
income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term,
fair trading relationships.
Transparency and accountability
We always deal fairly and respectfully with our trading partners, and we strive to remain transparent with our customers. Check out this blog post for a behind the scenes look.
By providing consistent orders, the makers we work with can establish
Promoting Fair Trade
Whether it’s in one of our stores or online, we are eager to provide
customers with the stories behind our products.
Payment of a fair price
Every purchase improves the lives
of makers and their families by supporting their craft and providing a fair,
We work with maker groups all over the world that empower women. Visit this blog post to learn more about some of the amazing women we work with, and the groups that are working towards women’s equality on a daily basis.
The makers we work with benefit
from working in a safe and healthy environment.
Fair Trade Organizations respect the UN Convention on the Rights of the
Many of the organizations we work with use environmentally-friendly production materials and methods. Check out this blog post to learn more about one of these groups.
Every design at Ten Thousand
Villages is handcrafted by makers we have known and worked with for years.
When you make a purchase from Ten Thousand Villages, you become part of something more than just retail; you are part of the solution to creating a FAIR world. Visit this blog post to learn about how your purchase makes a difference.
On August 26, 1920, women were finally given the right to vote in the United States. In Canada, women were given the right to vote in 1921. Today, women’s equality is still about that, but it also encompasses even more aspects. To start, it’s about providing women all over the world with equal opportunities to education and employment, and eliminating discrimination, stereotypes and violence against women.
Since the beginning, Ten Thousand Villages has been empowering women. In 1946, our founder, Edna Ruth Byler, a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) worker, visited volunteers in Puerto Rico who were teaching sewing classes to help improve the lives of women living in poverty. When she came back to North America, she filled her car with embroidery pieces she had purchased from these women at a fair price and sold them at churches, parties and sewing circles. The concept of fair trade – and Ten Thousand Villages – was born.
We are proud to work with maker groups all over the world that empower women. This year, to celebrate Women’s Equality Day 2019, we want to highlight a few of the groups we work with that are working towards women’s equality on a daily basis.
St. Mary’s Mahila Shikshan
500 women in India work with St. Mary’s creating embroidery designs using locally produced thread and hand-loomed cotton. These female makers have access to medical care, savings plans, sewing education, cooking classes and scholarships for their children. Each year, the organization celebrates women’s equality.
Alpa Mistri does embroidery for St. Mary’s. She is 38 years
old and has been working with the organization for two years. When asked about
the impact St. Mary’s has had on her life, she said, “Working in this
organization has given me an identity. As a single mother, I can stand on my
own two feet and look after my children without the support of a husband. I am
working towards giving my children an education. I want my daughter to become a
Corr – The Jute Works
Corr – The Jute Works markets handmade items, primarily jute and terracotta products, created by Bangladeshi women regardless of caste, religion or race. They work with 4,000 makers and focus on job training, literacy and health issues, developing leadership skills and generating awareness of women’s rights.
Sonia Begum crafts terracotta pots with Corr – The Jute
Works. She is 24 years old and has been working with the organization for one
year. When asked what the biggest change has been since working with Corr – The
Jute Works, she said, “I am getting a fair wage for my work. I am independent
and my voice is heard. Because of fair trade, rural women in Bangladesh have
rights. I feel empowered.”
Sapia works with 80 makers in Colombia creating beautiful products with unique materials like orange peel, tagua and corn husk.
Magdaly Figeroa Rincón is one of the satellite shop leaders
working at Sapia. She is 38 years old and has been working with Sapia for five
years. She makes all kinds of pieces of jewellery and orange peel dolls. When
asked how her life has changed since working with Sapia, she said, “Fair trade
allows me to be independent and generate my own income. I can work from home
and still dedicate time to my family. I can improve my family’s standard of living
and I can also support other women by bringing them work.”
Saidpur Enterprises provides work for women in Bangladesh. In addition to a fair wage, makers are given microloans, financial advice, literacy classes and training sessions in women’s legal rights, business and nutrition. Each year, the organization celebrates women’s equality.
Fatema SL sews bags at Saidpur Enterprises. She is 50 years
old and has been working with the organization since 1991. When asked how her
life has changed since working with Saidpur Enterprises, she said, “Before Saidpur
Enterprises, my husband did not make enough to provide for the family and there
were many days where we did not eat. Since working here, I have been able to
provide food for our children and send them to school. I also have been able to
buy a piece of land to build a house. I get paid regularly and work in an
environment with no discrimination.”
When you buy a product from Ten Thousand Villages, your
purchase helps empower women around the world. Your purchase:
Provides women with equal opportunities to
Gives women a voice and the ability to be
On August 19, 2003, a terrorist attack killed 22 people at
the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN’s
top representative in Iraq, was one of the people who lost their life.
According to the United Nations, “World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held every year on August 19 to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world” (United Nations). In other words, WHD is when we honour those who have volunteered their time, sometimes in dangerous places, to help others all over the world. Additionally, it’s an opportunity to support organizations that help others around the world.
This year, on WHD 2019, the UN is honouring and celebrating
#WomenHumanitarians from around the world who risk their lives to help those in
Here at Ten Thousand Villages, on WHD, we want to thank our volunteers. Our volunteers give their time in our head office, distribution centre and in our stores across Canada. With their help, we are creating life-changing opportunities for individuals, families and communities around the world. Without them, our work wouldn’t be possible.
World Humanitarian Day is a chance to support those people and organizations that are working towards improving the lives all over the world. If you’re looking for a way to make the world a better place but are unsure where to start, you can visit our website to find out more information about volunteering at one of our stores.
Whether it’s a birthday, a wedding or a baby shower, Salay Handmade Paper has a card for the occasion. Founded in 1987, Loreta Rafisura, a nurse turned entrepreneur and her husband, started Salay Handmade Paper to provide employment for the people of Salay in the Philippines. Through experimentation, they developed their trademark handmade paper using cogon grass, a weed that interferes with local farming. Today, Salay Handmade Paper works with almost 400 makers who craft cards, nativities and journals from cogon grass. Besides a fair wage and pensions, makers also share in the profits.
In addition to transforming the lives of people, Salay
Handmade Paper also works to help protect and preserve the environment.
According to Salay Handmade Paper, tree cutting for commercial purposes had
left hundreds of hectares of land in Matampa, one of the mountainous villages
in Salay, bare since the 1970s. With a passion and determination to improve the
environment, Salay Handmade Paper had their first organized tree planting
mission in Matampa in May 2010 on World Fair Trade Day (WFTD). 350 makers
working with Salay helped to plant 500 pine trees!
In 2017, they committed to planting 500 more trees.
Nine years later, there are now tons of pine trees and tourists
are attracted to Matampa since pine trees are rarely seen in this coastal province.
Thanks to these tree planting missions, Salay Handmade Paper has enhanced the
land, air and soil. So far this year, they have planted 700 pine trees. They
are hoping to plant a total of 2,000 trees by the end of the year!
With every purchase of a Salay Handmade Paper product, you are not only improving the lives of people in the Philippines; you are also helping to improve the environment. Visit our website to find the perfect handmade card for your next social event.
Here at Ten Thousand Villages Canada, we believe that all
people deserve the chance to earn a fair and stable income. Our mission is to
help the world discover beautiful things that do beautiful things. We strive to
offer stunning, globally responsible lifestyle products that create
opportunities for makers in developing countries to earn an income, in turn,
improving their quality of life. When you make a purchase from Ten Thousand
Villages, you become part of something more than just retail; you are part of
the solution to creating a FAIR world.
Here are seven important ways your purchase makes a
Your purchase puts
food on the table
“Before fair trade, I
was entirely dependent on my husband’s income to bear family expenses. Being a
van puller, he didn’t earn much and always struggled to provide the basic needs
for our family. My kids and I would often go hungry due to lack of food. I
often had to borrow food and money from my neighbors to feed my kids. Every day
was a constant battle with hunger for me and my kids. Thanks to fair trade, I
was able to work for a fair wage, which helped with family expenses. In a way,
fair trade has saved my family’s life.”
“Being able to send my
kids to school has been the biggest change for me since I started working in
fair trade. I am very proud of them because they have managed to succeed in
their academic lives and are heading towards a brighter future. My son has
recently completed a dental technology course, and now, he is doing an
internship in Dhaka. My daughter is taking a nursing course in a medical college.”
“Fair trade has
provided me with regular work and has helped educate my children. Fair trade
has also provided me with additional benefits like free health check-ups, life
insurance and medical insurance.”
“Fair trade allows me
to be independent and generate my own income. I can work from home and still
dedicate time to my family. I can improve my family’s standard of living and
also support other women by bringing them work.”
“Before fair trade, I
was going through a really bad time with my family. My husband was really sick
and I took out a lot of loans, all of which made my life miserable. There was
no money left in the family, so I couldn’t send my kids to school, let alone provide
them the minimum basic needs. With fair trade, I was able to provide the basic
needs for my kids and send them to school. I was also able to see a better
doctor to treat my husband’s sickness. He is doing fine now and has a shop in
the local market.”
“Working for a fair
trade organization has had a positive impact on my life. I receive a fair wage,
regular employment opportunities and benefits. I don’t have to rely on anyone for
my personal expenses. I am able to provide for my family. I feel empowered and
It’s no secret that the commercial tanning process for
leather is hazardous. Not only is leather tanned with compounds that are
harmful to the environment, but this chemical process is also damaging to the
health of the people working in the leather production industry.
Many of our bags, purses and wallets are handcrafted using eco-leather by makers working with the Craft Resource Centre (CRC). CRC is a fair trade resource and marketing centre in India that tans their leather products without using harmful chemicals. In other words, instead of using azo dyes, formaldehyde and other harmful substances, eco-leather is tanned using environmentally-friendly materials derived from sustainable tea bark extracts and waxes.
Indro Dasgupta is the director of CRC and we were fortunate
to spend time with him this past spring. During his visit with us, he outlined
the eco-leather process. He explained that since the government in India has
banned the use of cow in the production of leather, CRC eco-leather products
are made with water buffalo. The water buffalo are first used for milk and
meat, and then the skin, which would typically be considered waste, is sold to
CRC for the production of leather. In other words, no animals are killed for
the purpose of making leather. CRC is simply upcycling the waste produced by
Indro also explained that after the raw hide is collected, it
is tanned with eco-friendly materials on a drumming machine and then it’s set
out to dry. Once the leather is dry, it is then waxed, shined and sprayed.
Finally, the leather is assembled into beautiful purses, wallets and bags.
Mallika Manjari De is a quality checker and packer working
with CRC. She is 28 years old and has been working with CRC for almost two
years. When asked about how her life has changed since working with CRC, she
said, “Life was difficult. I found it difficult to make ends meet. Now, I am
able to buy necessities for my home.”
Eco-leather is more than a fashion choice; it’s a way to better the environment and improve the lives of people like Mallika. Browse our handcrafted eco-leather collection online.
Thankfully, most Canadians have never experienced war. In Cambodia, however, people are still healing from the destruction of the past. Years after the Vietnam War and the Pol Pot genocide, Cambodia’s countryside is still littered with bomb and artillery shell casings. Reminders of war are everywhere, and healing is an ongoing process. As a way to heal from the past, the makers of Rajana Association use these reminders of tragedy and transform them into beautiful pieces of jewellery that are wearable symbols of hope, peace and strength.
Van Sovann is one of the jewellery makers working at Rajana. He is 38 years old and has been working with Rajana for 20 years. When asked what he wants to share with Canadians, he said, “Thank you very much for your support. When you buy our products, it provides me with the ability to take care of my family.”
According to Sovann, it takes six people to craft one piece
of jewellery and depending on how complicated the design is, three to four
pieces of jewellery can be made in one day. First, the recycled brass casings
are sourced and collected from a village nearby. Next, using an acetylene torch,
the casings are cut and assembled into earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Then,
symbols of hope and peace, such as doves, are engraved into the metal by hand. Finally,
each piece is polished and shined. Sovann enjoys welding and assembling the
pieces of jewellery.
Each piece of jewellery is a symbol of hope, peace and
strength. By transforming symbols of war into symbols of beauty, Cambodians like
Sovann are supporting their families, healing from the past and looking forward
to the future.
Browse our handcrafted bombshell jewellery collection online and wear these symbols of strength wherever you go.