In 2010, after seeing the success of Just Trade’s collaboration with artisans in Peru, Laura was contacted by the Ecuadorian embassy to meet with WFTO producers in Ecuador. Laura first travelled there in 2011 and was introduced to several groups, three of which we still work with today.
Just Trade are now working with five workshops, which each specialise in a different traditional technique using either hand carved tagua or ceramic components. Tagua is a nut from a type of palm that grows in the South American jungle; often known as vegetable ivory, it is a sustainable and environmentally sound alternative to animal ivory.
Whilst Ecuador has many highly skilled artisans, they have seen global exports decrease over recent years as they are competing against the cheaper work force in Asia, where the cost of living is significantly lower. As a result, artisans compete over the local tourist market where they are often exploited by middle men who take advantage of the over supply of handicraft products and demand increasingly lower prices.
Just Trade have collaborated with these artisans to develop training programmes and design workshops enabling the production of jewellery suitable for export. The projects are overseen by our Ecuadorian partner Vilma, who has over twenty years experience working in Fair Trade. We share a passion for empowering marginalised artisans to ensure a better future for their families through the making and selling of beautiful products.