Located on the outskirts of Kigali, Rwanda, Cards from Africa is a bustling atmosphere of skilled paper crafters and creative card makers. At the end of the afternoon, our employees bring home an income that is 4 to 6 times higher than the average Rwandan's $1 per day. Our employees are the heads of their orphaned households, and they use this money to feed and clothe their younger brothers and sisters as well as purchase medicine and provide school tuition when needed.
By providing our staff with quality employment we foster a sense of self-worth and capability. Furthermore, we invest in our employees' future by teaching them practical business skills as well as inspires them with a sense of entrepreneurship. A newfound confidence, coupled with practical skills, gives our staff both reason and justification to save their money. In partnering with Rwandan youth, we provide the key to opportunity, but ultimately expect them to unlock the oppression of poverty themselves.
Cards from Africa is deeply committed to fair-trade principles. We are members of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) and the Fair Trade Federation (FTF). For example, our minimum hiring age is 18, in order to protect the educational opportunities of children in Rwanda. We pay above-market wages in the local context and encourage the employees to save. (We want them to start their own businesses some day). Plus, we make our paper from scrap paper that would otherwise be burned, contributing environmentally sustainability to our local economy.
You can learn more about Fair Trade by visiting the FTF or WFTO websites. Here are WFTO's ten standards for Fair Trade organizations. Cards from Africa is proud to adhere to all of them:
1. Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers
Fair Trade is a strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Its purpose is to create opportunities for producers who have been economically disadvantaged or marginalized by the conventional trading system.
2. Transparency and accountability
Fair Trade involves transparent management and commercial relations to deal fairly and respectfully with trading partners.
3. Capacity building
Fair Trade is a means to develop producers' independence. Fair Trade relationships provide continuity, during which producers and their marketing organizations can improve their management skills and their access to new markets.
4. Promoting Fair Trade
Fair Trade Organizations raise awareness of Fair Trade and the possibility of greater justice in world trade. They provide their customers with information about the organization, the products, and in what conditions they are made. They use honest advertising and marketing techniques and aim for the highest standards in product quality and packing.
5. Payment of a fair price
A fair price in the regional or local context is one that has been agreed through dialogue and participation. It covers not only the costs of production but enables production which is socially just and environmentally sound. It provides fair pay to the producers and takes into account the principle of equal pay for equal work by women and men. Fair Traders ensure prompt payment to their partners and, whenever possible, help producers with access to pre-harvest or pre-production financing.
6. Gender Equity
Fair Trade means that women's work is properly valued and rewarded. Women are always paid for their contribution to the production process and are empowered in their organizations.
7. Working conditions
Fair Trade means a safe and healthy working environment for producers. The participation of children (if any) does not adversely affect their well-being, security, educational requirements and need for play and conforms to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as the law and norms in the local context.
8. Child Labour
Fair Trade Organizations respect the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as local laws and social norms in order to ensure that the participation of children in production processes of fairly traded articles (if any) does not adversely affect their well-being, security, educational requirements and need for play. Organizations working directly with informally organised producers disclose the involvement of children in production.
9. The environment
Fair Trade actively encourages better environmental practices and the application of responsible methods of production.
10. Trade Relations
Fair Trade Organizations trade with concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of marginalized small producers and do not maximise profit at their expense. They maintain long-term relationships based on solidarity, trust and mutual respect that contribute to the promotion and growth of Fair Trade. Whenever possible producers are assisted with access to pre-harvest or pre-production advance payment.
Our cardmakers enjoying their work.