Do you think and act globally in your local community?
Years ago, I caught on to the practice of fair trade. Knowing deep down free trade is not fair for many global citizens, I looked for a different way to do business.
It was through the fair trade movement that I was able to breathe new life into Simply Sustainable, and connect with communities near and far.
Back in 2010 when I was making a major shift, I invested in a small batch of handicrafts from a neighbouring community in Guatemala, where I was living at the time.
I packed a duffle bag full of goodies, and set forth for the North where I would exhibit them alongside my handmade jewelry at fairs and festivals during summer months.
For me, it was not only a way to subsidize my pay and fill my 10×10, it was a way to spread a message.
This message was one of hope, but also one of great injustices. We live in a world plagued with inequality, and I couldn’t keep my mouth shut any longer.
Nobody likes a preacher, so I would turn potential customers off with my intensity. Despite my background in commerce – and knowing full well this approach was bad for business – I didn’t care.
It’s not that I was trying to turn people off, or scare them away – it’s just that I couldn’t let the message go unheard.
So what’s the message?
Well, there are many. But today we are going to focus on a message about access to opportunity.
I’ve heard criticism before that people choose to be in poverty. Nothing can be further from the truth. Sure, there are people out there that are lazy. But I bet you that nine times out of ten – given the right opportunity – they’d rather be productive and contributing to their community.
So why don’t they?
While I don’t have all of the answers, I believe it has a lot of do with passion and purpose. It’s a lot easier to work hard at something worthwhile.
What happens when meaningful work does not exist?
That brings me to today’s topic. Sustainable Development Goal 10.
“Reduce inequality within and among countries”
Isn’t that what fair trade is all about? We have the capacity to look beyond our borders, and extend opportunities across the globe to mobilize solutions.
So while many might blame offshore outsourcing of goods and services for the lack of employment at home, I urge you to take a broader look at the issue.
Outsourcing employment overseas does not need to be unethical or unjust, for anyone. It can open up the door to so many opportunities. An organization can be built with a team from anywhere in this world.
As I shift from selling goods to offering services, I recently learned about virtual assistants from communities near and far. Meeting with a social media guru she shares stories about the wonderful graphic designer she works with from Colombia. Then she lights up when she talks about a novice assistant Brent out of the Philippines who is eager to work with sole proprietors, giving them a hand with their admin tasks.
When I got in contact with Brent directly, this is what he had to say about being a virtual assistant:
“Earning more time is a priceless compensation, one that is greater than earning more money”
He went on to explain that by being a virtual assistant he was not only presented with the opportunity for a better wage, he was also granted the opportunity to work from home. This of course reduced the dependence on commuting to a big city, taking time away from his family.
The light bulb went off. If we can have fair trade for coffee and chocolate, why can’t we have it for services too?
While I find it important to stimulate jobs locally, it’s my nature to extend those opportunities globally. After all, with a long list of goals and targets for a sustainable future that need to be achieved, we’ve got a lot of work to do!
Why wouldn’t we take a chance, and give ethical globalization the opportunity?
I’d love to hear what you think about this topic & learn about initiatives in your community. Please feel free to comment below or on Twitter.