Share & Connect
Colorado, U.S.A. — Paradigm Shift, a Colorado-based non-profit, recently launched an online shop. The Paradigm Shift Shop sells Fair Trade South African crafts handmade by microentrepreneurs who have participated in Paradigm Shift’s holistic entrepreneurship training program.
Around the globe millions work in sweatshop-like conditions, earning barely enough to feed their families. Unfortunately, many consumers are unaware of the exploitation that is often involved in the process of making their goods. Former U.S. president Benjamin Harrison once said, “I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process.”
To counter the exploitation of workers around the world, a social movement has evolved known as Fair Trade. The goal of Fair Trade is to ensure that workers receive fair wages and working conditions.
With unemployment rates nearing thirty percent in South Africa, the risk of exploitation is high as parents struggle to place food on the table. This has given rise to microentrepreneurship among South Africa’s urban poor. Some of these microentrepreneurs are gifted artisans who sell handcrafted products, which include traditional African wire and beaded keepsakes, recycled paper journals and jewelry.
These artisans exhibit a hard work ethic while continually designing and creating new products. Yet they often lack market exposure and the ability to sell their products in the quantity, and at a price, that would allow them to live above subsistence.
The Paradigm Shift Shop partners with these artisans by selling their products to U.S. customers and retailers. Consumers are now offered the opportunity to purchase with purpose. All Paradigm Shift Shop products are created by a South African artisan and are aligned with Fair Trade standards, which include fair wages and safe work conditions. Each product comes with a two-sided tag that features a picture and story of the artisan who made the product.
“I feel so proud to be working with Paradigm Shift. When I sew for Paradigm Shift, I sew with my heart,” says Francinah, one of the Paradigm Shift Shop artisans who hand-sews baby onesies. With the money that Francinah earns from sewing onesies she is able to provide for her and her son Leroy. In addition to allowing artisans to provide for their families as their businesses grow, they are also able to employ other South Africans who would otherwise be unemployed.
While the Paradigm Shift Shop sells retail products, a majority of sales come from wholesale retailers who sell Paradigm Shift Shop products in their stores.
To learn more about the Paradigm Shift Shop or to purchase a product, visit http://www.shiftingparadigms.org/shop.