The Fair Trade Difference
Since our founding in 1989, Mayan Hands has been guided by the principles of Fair Trade. We are a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation.
• Paying a fair wage in the local context:
Working directly with the weavers, and serving as a fair middleman between the buyer and the weavers, we are able to offer them a better return for their work, often five or ten times more than they would get by selling their products in the local markets.
• Offering the women opportunities for advancement:
Weavers who work with us have opportunities to learn new techniques, basic business skills, the workings of democracy and group cooperation, and train in important health topics such as the use of traditional Mayan herbal medicine (which was disappearing in many areas).
• Providing equal employment opportunities for all people, particularly the most disadvantaged:
Mayan women are the poorest sector in Guatemalan society, being doubly disadvantaged, as Mayan and as women. Most weavers working with Mayan Hands are monolingual and illiterate, because when they were children only boys were sent to school. This severely limits their possibilities of obtaining an income.
• Engaging in environmentally sustainable practices:
We have a product line using recycled plastic bags gathered from the communities or the city. Mayan Hands weavers and basket makers are learning about natural dyes and beginning to use them in their products.
• Being open to public accountability:
You are welcome to study our books in Guatemala anytime. Form 990-EZ, Mayan Hands return as a tax-exempt organization is open for public inspection.
• Providing healthy and safe working conditions within the local context:
Mayan women incorporate weaving to their daily activities of watching their children, caring for domestic animals, cooking, and washing. They work in their homes in an environment where they feel safe and can continue their traditional Mayan lifestyle. Respect for cultural traditions is a central aspect of our philosophy. Mayan Hands weavers work in cooperative groups, a healthy alternative to large-scale manufacturing and sweatshops conditions.
• Building long-term trade relationships:
We have been working with many of our groups for more than 10 years, and some since the inception of Mayan Hands over 20 years ago.
• Providing financial and technical assistance to producers, such as workshops for artisans and scholarships for artisan daughters. Some cooperatives have independently established micro-credit programs for their members.