Fair trade is a social movement that promotes sustainable business by securing better trading conditions and the rights of producers and workers in developing countries. This means that producers and workers aren’t exploited and left making cents whereas the businessmen at the top make the profit; instead, producers and workers are treated and compensated fairly for their hard work. While many businesses still run on exploitation, we must recognize and support the businesses that operate in fair trade.
One business involved in fair trade is right here at St. Michael’s College. Senior JD Popp is not only a student studying business and environmental studies; he’s also the heart of Aya Fair Trade. Aya Fair Trade is a socially responsible fair trade business that purchases African wax fabrics from a local marketplace in Kumasi, Ghana. There are about a dozen seamstresses in Ghana employed by Aya to make duffle bags, backpacks, sling bags, purses, cross body purses, and aprons.
With every purchase, 15% of the sales are donated to funding education for children in Ghana, and every bag that is sold funds roughly one week of education. This is crucial because many children in Ghana sell trinkets on the street to make money for their family because they cannot afford an education.
According to Popp, “At Aya we are trying to show off some of the culture of Ghana through their traditional fabrics and patterns as well as try and make a difference in children’s lives. We believe in investing in the next generation and helping developing countries continue to progress.”
Popp managed to take over Aya Fair Trade from the previous owner, Ellen Clauss, on a whim. After hearing Clauss was moving to Utah and needed something to do with the business, Popp called her and offered his help. “Social responsibility as well as sustainability is something I am very interested in,” Popp said. “For me, business is a medium for change. I truly believe that business has the most potential to actually influence the world and social issues. I’m not just working to make myself money but I am working to help children who need it.”
If you’re interested in supporting this fair trade business, you can visit Aya’s website, http://www.ayafairtrade.com/ or their instagram, https://www.instagram.com/aya_fair_trade/. The Etsy page will be up and running before the holidays, so keep your eye out for AyaFairTrade on Etsy for holiday gifts that you will feel good about buying! And if you’re on campus, you can contact JD Popp and buy the bags directly to help support fair trade as well as children in Ghana.
Photo sources: http://www.ayafairtrade.com/