A New Fair-Trade Business Model
The small business blog over at Business Week introduces us to a great company called CraftNetwork which is turning the fair-trade model on its head. While most fair-trade retailers make social consciousness their major selling point, CraftNetwork has built its business on a more traditional model: large quantities of uniform products at competitive prices.
Chris Benz, the company's founder, has coordinated over a thousand artisans to create an array of products to near exact specifications. The artisans are able to work in their homes or village workshops, and CraftNetwork is able to sell large quantities of product to major wholesale buyers, delivering profits back to the artisans themselves. Benz says, “I have a whole village employed, a whole village that’s bringing in $70,000 a month -– based on one order.” That one order is from Carnival Cruise Line, which has bought 50,000 books weaved of banana leaves.