With the surge of globalization, mass-production has increased and the handmade suffered greatly, which is why Fair Trade Egypt, aims to re-establish the importance of artisans and hand-made crafts while empowering local communities. Fair Trade is an NGO that was established in 1998 to support artisans while abiding by the fair trade business principles that ranges from cultural, social and environmental responsibilities.
“Everything we do is environment-friendly,” said Yara El Shennawy, the marketing manager, “we use recycled paper to create cards and make bags and carpets out of recycled cloth”. Their aim is to raise the social standard of villages and local communities in Egypt. Other than teaching them the crafts, they provide education and health support and help abused and burnt women. “Most of our producers are women,” Shennawy said.
“It feels good when you see the change in a whole community because of your efforts,” Shennawy continued “and there’s significant change noticeable. They’re more educated, their houses are bigger and one of the women, Amal Abu Moussa, has been nominated for the people’s council”.
They currently have 2722 producers in several governorates such as Fayoum, Beheira, Cairo, Qena and Sinai. They also import products from Africa and other local communities all over the world. Their products are diversified and range from jewelry, to dresses, carpets, soap, cards, home decoration items and bed sheets. They can be purchased from the store or ordered from their Facebook page ‘Fair Trade Egypt Ltd.’.
“We try to modernize the products, yet at the same time retain the Egyptian identity in the products,” said El Shennawy, “so, for instance, if they’re making a galabeya, we would ask them to make a dress instead”. The identity of their products is a very important feature. “Every product has a story behind it,” said El Shennawy, “and most importantly, it has a soul”.
Fair Trade also exports its products, mostly to Germany and the United States. “Most of the people, who buy our products are foreigners,” said El Shennawy. She elaborated that Egyptians still don’t have the proper cultural awareness. “The culture of development doesn’t exist,” she said “we only have the culture of charity”. The difference between both, she explained, is that development’s main aim is sustainability.
They will be soon opening another branch and are aiming to increase their outreach.
Address: 27 Yehia Ibrahim St., Zamalek, first floor