VIDEO 48: How To Start A Fair Trade Business

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With my last week in Bangkok coming to a close, I wanted to talk about the time I spent in Cambodia in Siem Reap. I had the chance to visit a fair trade silk factory where I witnessed just how many fair trade organizations are based out of Cambodia. It was refreshing to see how many organizations are involved and dedicated to improving the quality of life of Cambodians.

In this episode, I wanted to provide you guys with tips on starting a fair trade store because having one is a great way to make an impact within a community while building a sustainable business. Consumers today care about what they buy, its origin, and its social footprint.

So, how can you also make a difference and create a sustainable fair trade business?

1) Decide on a mission statement: Before you jump in, ask yourself the following questions to decide on your mission statement: What are you passionate about? Which community are you interested in supporting, either locally or internationally? Did you travel somewhere and felt the need to help a specific community of people? What is it that you are trying to accomplish in your mission’s goal? The following will help you decide which type organizations you would like to collaborate with and products you might want to feature in your store.

2) Set-up your shop with minimal or no inventory: Various website such as: Fair Trade Federation; Serrv; and Sustainability Store offer lists of vendors with products you can purchase. Communicate with these vendors to ask them about their best-selling products. Identify what their minimum is for wholesale and whether or not they are open to drop-shipping. There are pro’s and con’s to drop-shipping, and not all vendors are open to it, but it’s a great way to avoid having too much inventory and not being able to sell it. Also, test out different products to get a feel for what consumers want.

3) Research Shipping and Importing Taxes: Next, you will need to research shipping and importing taxes to your designated country. For example, shipments under a $2,000 value in the US can have a more informal entry, as long as you fill out all necessary custom forms. I also encourage you to do the math and leverage shipping calculators, such as the one provided by UPS, to get a sense of your shipping costs (you will need the following when setting up price points for your products; watch my previous episode on this topic).

That’s all for today, so I hope you found this information useful if you’re considering to open a fair trade business. Make sure to leave your comments and feedback, and check back every Wednesday as I provide business tips each week!


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