Fair Trade Certified products are just that. Fair. From far-away farms to your shopping cart, products that bear our logo come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated and who care for the earth. We help farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities and the planet. We're a nonprofit, but we don't do charity. Instead, we work with disadvantaged communities to use the free market to their advantage. With Fair Trade USA, the money you spend on day-to-day goods can improve an entire community’s day-to-day lives.
It all started with a one-way ticket to Nicaragua. That, and coffee. The summer of 1983 was the start of an 11-year stay in Nicaragua for Paul Rice, who would later become founder of Fair Trade USA. The year that started it all, he recruited 24 coffee farmers to agree to sell their coffee on fair trade terms. After the first harvest, farmers received a dramatically higher income, enabling them to invest in homes, electricity, and running water—things they had previously been unable to afford. The next year, even more coffee farmers joined. And the next, until that group had grown to include more than 3,000 families, and Paul returned to the United States to launch Fair Trade USA in 1998. We were a small but mighty group, working in partnership with a handful of rural farmers and a few mission-driven coffee companies who believed the fair trade movement would become part of a much larger shift toward conscious consumerism. Today, fair trade has grown into a leading market-based model of sustainable production, trade, and consumption. The success of core products like coffee has attracted pioneering brands and retailers in other industries including apparel, home goods, fisheries, and more. Together, we are innovating the fair trade model and creating impact for farmers, workers, and fishermen worldwide.