Creating an independent income for small-scale producers, results in the reduction of poverty in our world. We do this in Peru and Bolivia. We pay a fair price and because we strive towards a lasting relationship with the producers, they do not only have the opportunity to survive but also to educate themselves. Of course, child labour is out of the question.
Our producers almost always define the price that enables them to make a beautiful and fair product. Mostly this is about 30% above the local market value and we gladly pay that extra amount. In countries like Peru and Bolivia it might just so happen that people offer their products far beneath cost price, simply because they have to pay their rent that day and need money immediately. We do not want to take advantage of that. We pay the producers a price they can count on and in exchange we receive beautiful, high quality products.
From the start of our business in 1999, we have worked with a system that is quite similar to the micro-credits. Shepherdesses in the mountains around lake Titicaca for instance, often lack the means to buy wool and therefore they do not have the opportunity to knit products that could provide them with an external income. We break this vicious circle by supplying wool. Then a shepherdess turns the wool into a finger puppet, key hanger or hat, which is bought by Titicaca Trade. The product price is paid minus the price of the wool and in that way she earns a net amount Our other producers receive an advance. We pay an interest free advance of 30 to 50%, so that the producers do not need to take expensive local loans.
Equality between Titicaca and the producers has the highest priority in our management. With the earned money some producers improve their house or buy their children notebooks for school, while others spend the proceeds of a whole year’s work on drinks at a three-day village festival. That is their own free choice and we do not interfere.
At the office we use green power only. If possible we ship in used boxes. All the bubble wrap and filling materials that we use to protect our products during transport have been reused or are made of recycled plastic. Our paper is FSC, bleached chlorine free and partly recycled.
For now, environmental aspects in Peru and Bolivia are limited to raising the awareness of the people we work with and to taking some essential measures regarding their health, like ventilation in the work areas and using gloves and dust caps when this is required. None of our products contain illegally logged wood from the rain forest or cactus. And even with the legally logged wood, we remain extremely critical, because legality is for sale in South America. Furthermore we are working on including biological cotton in our collection.
We have regular contact with our producers and visit them at home. In that way we can verify what we guarantee here in Europe: decent working conditions and a fair pay. Corporate social responsibility has been our usual standard for 20 years already.
For relatively new products that we carry, we cannot guarantee that with certainty, because we still need to get to know the producers. But we can stand by these products anyway because they do support the local economy in Peru and Bolivia. As soon as the product is successful and remains in the assortment, we make sure to learn about the production situation.
We do not (yet) have the officially recognized Fairtrade mark because of the high costs and the amount of red tape involved in the process. Besides, we believe that our own monitoring and the direct contact with our producers are just as effective. Please see our videos under Meet the people for a better impression.