Some years ago, during our previous life at Soekershof, we managed some workshops on our farm where local artisans had the opportunity to hone their skills. Some beautiful things were created such as the huge wire baobab tree for the South African embassy in Berlin (Germany). Visitors from around the globe saw the people at work and it was always a nice exchange between cultures and it was selling on the spot; from wire work to seed boxes (with inlaid wood) with seeds from plants in our garden !!!
At the time Soekershof was Fair Trade accredited which meant that we could supply Fair Trade and similar shops (like Oxfam in the UK) with products. But you know what? These shops (including their umbrella organizations) wanted to have it all cheap, very cheap, while we had the impression that Fair Trade stood (stands?) for (e)quality and honest income for people from less privileged areas in the world. … One of ideas (from a Dutch Fair Trade organization) was to market wooden handbags so ‘Mr. Plaatjies’ (the woodworker) made a few laminated prototypes. Cost price of wood, leather, etc., (= just the materials) was around R 10,00 (1.5 USD); fairly cheap because we recycled rest pieces. Fair Trade offered us 1 EURO each including transport to Holland; less than materials costed us.
Well … we told them to buy in China. But this is not the end of the story.
We still have one prototype left. And that one will last a long, long, time.