May 24, 2012

Fair Trade

Doug Dirks

Marcia Franklin talks about fair trade issues with Doug Dirks, the CEO of Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer. The two discuss the definition of the term "fair trade," how consumers can know if they're buying a fair trade item, how artisan communities use the money derived from the sale of their products, some of the criticisms of the movement, and what Dirks views as its future.

In a special web extra, Dirks, who has worked for the company for more than 25 years, talks about some of the changes he's seen in communities that sell fair trade products.

Ten Thousand Villages traces its roots back to 1946, when a Mennonite woman, Edna Ruth Byler, started selling crafts from Puerto Rican artists to her friends. There was so much interest she started a business that became Ten Thousand Villages. More than 60 years later, the company buys products from 130 different artisan groups in 38 countries. It sells them online and at more than 75 stores across the United States. Fair trade products are become more and more popular; last year alone, Ten Thousand Villages saw a 14% increase in sales.

Before he became CEO of Ten Thousand Villages on April 2, 2012, Mr. Dirks worked for the company in a variety of positions, including marketing director and executive director of Ten Thousand Villages in Canada. He's also the past chair of the board of the Fair Trade Federation. He was in Boise in March, 2012 to visit Dunia Marketplace, Idaho's only non-profit fair trade store.