The Importance of Fair Trade

This past week, Hannah Dodoo came all the way from Ghana to speak about Fair Trade- how it has made a huge impact in her life and how fair pay, safe working conditions and an encouraging working environment have kept her and her employees from being lured into bondage.  Dodoo emphasized how consumers’ buying decisions so greatly impact the quality of life of so many and that by buying fair trade, consumers are directly helping people stay away from situations where they could be lured into trafficking.

Responsible Consumerism: Why it’s important

Responsible consumerism begins with an understanding that the products we buy and invest in affect the living conditions of people around the world.  In today’s global society, there are services and products that are made both ethically and unethically.  In order to be a responsible consumer, it is important to choose companies that not only care about human rights but also actively monitor the impact of their decisions on people, whether directly within their business or to the businesses to which they outsource.  As Hannah Dodoo explained, choosing to buy from such companies can have a tremendous positive impact on developing communities and help prevent trafficking.  It is important to look for and buy from companies that have a strong commitment to human rights through their code of corporate responsibility, usually found on their company website.  One of these ways is through purchasing Fair Trade.

Fair Trade: Richmond and Around the World

On October 24, Richmond Justice Initiative partnered with Ten Thousand Villages Richmond, Ellwood Thompson’s, and VCU School of World Studies to host Fair Trade Towns USA and Global Mamas, a fair trade artisan group, for a series of events highlighting the important impacts of buying Fair Trade.  At lunch, community members that are actively involved in educating and promoting fair trade in Richmond came together to learn about the possibility of making Richmond an official Fair Trade Town.  It was an incredible experience to be sitting in a room with community leaders and business owners who had never been in the same room together, who are passionate about changing the climate in Richmond to be more sensitive to human rights issues and Fair Trade in business.  Hannah Dodoo, an artisan and fair trade shop owner in Ghana shared with the group about the crucial importance of Fair Trade business and what an impact it has made in her life and in the lives of thousands of artisans around the world.  Hannah said, “If a woman borrows just $10 from a man, it will end up costing her so much more, she’ll continually unwillingly end up in the man’s bedroom to pay for her ‘debt.’” Hannah shared that people know they will be treated and paid fairly if they are employed with a fair trade organization, such as Global Mamas.  She said that this brings hope to them, allows them to build a life, and stay away from the dangers that too easily result in trafficking. As Hannah explained, “without fairness in business, there is no happiness”.  During the evening, students and community members gathered at VCU to learn more about Fair Trade and how they can be involved as educated consumers.  If you have any additional questions about responsible consumerism or if you too are interested in finding out more about making Richmond an official Fair Trade Town, please contact me at  Also, please click here to visit the RJI Responsible Consumerism page for more information on this topic and a list of shopping resources.

Save the Date!  On Thursday, December 6, we hope you will bring your holiday shopping list and come out to Ten Thousand Villages in Carytown to shop!  During this wonderful opportunity, from 6-8pm only on December 6, a percentage of the sales will go to directly benefit Richmond Justice Initiative!  This is not only a great occasion to find unique gifts for your family, friends, and co-workers but also to contribute in a meaningful way to Richmond Justice Initiative and to the lives of artisans around the world through purchasing fair trade.

Written by Jessica Sutton