Posted by: Andrea Mullins | 3 November, 2009

A Choice that Brings Hope to the World

mexicoEach week we watch the rise and fall of financial indicators. When the numbers rise, we hope to see a positive impact on our personal portfolio. When they fall, we fear for our retirement.  This is where our concerns often stop. We seldom consider the impact these indicators have for the poorest of the poor in our world.

A few years ago I became responsible for a fair trade company and quickly discovered the impact of my personal decisions on the poor in this world. Unlike most of the publishing choices we make, fair trade decisions free people from the bondage of extreme poverty.  A father may be turned from seeing his young daughter as a valuable commodity to be traded. A teenager may be rescued from a life a crime. A young woman may discover a vocation other than prostitution or the back rooms of a nightclub. Children may grow up with hope.

For many of us it is difficult to imagine that our purchasing decisions can mean a bag of rice for a starving family, or rent paid to an unforgiving landlord. We find it hard to understand the anguish of an impoverished society where a father sells his daughter to the highest bidder. Desperation and generations of poverty have serious implications for families, communities, and society.

Fair trade companies commit to providing sustainable income for the people the company serves. While a retailer may sell a fair trade product, it is only fair trade companies that have made the commitment to provide sustainable income to people in poverty. Fair trade decisions in a challenging economy are more complex than reducing a print run from 10,000 to 5,000. Instead, the question is, “If we only order 50 units instead of 500, what happens to the artisans? How many will go without food? How many will be forced into slavery or be sold to sex traffickers?”

Fair trade has deepened my realization that it isn’t just our company decisions, but our personal business choices that impact those who are far less fortunate. Whether we spend our days running our homes or a Fortune 500 company, our financial and life stewardship decisions have potential to bring hope to families, women, and children who have no representation at the table of wealth that most of us enjoy each day. We cannot separate God’s love and concern from our choices as we make purchases, give to our churches, support ministries and missions . . . .

For believers, all business is mission. Many of us are already purchasing our gifts for Christmas. Whether we have $5 or $50,000 to spend, how we use it is important to our faith and God’s purposes in this world. Our $5 is more than the majority of this world will ever have, and purchasing a gift is a luxury they seldom consider.

This Christmas look for a fair trade company that is concerned for both physical and spiritual needs, so the impoverished of this world will be set free by the Christ of Christmas.

Visit to see the stories of artisans around the world whose lives depend on the sale of the beautiful crafts they make.


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