The British Association for Fair Trade Shops was set up in 1995 by Aileen Garden, then Manageress of Gateway World Shop, Durham. We originally provided a membership organisation mainly for handicrafts’ shops selling fair trade goods. We do not provide certification for members or their products.
In 1994, Aileen attended a meeting of European World Shops in Maastricht, the aim of which was to consider setting up an international association. Most of the countries in Europe already had a World Shops’ Association, and the UK did not. There was great enthusiasm and the Network Of European World Shops (NEWS!) was established. On her return, Aileen organised a conference for any “fair trade” shops with whom she had contact. The description “fair trade” was the shops’ own classification as there were at that time no criteria. There was a huge response and it was agreed to set up BAFTS. There followed the organising of criteria for membership, and decisions on who could be a member. A Board was set up, and you have the basis of our organisation.
Now, after a name change, we incorporate organisations which sell fairly traded goods, whether on a wholesale or retail basis. Our members work to bring about changes in the status of developing world producers through Fair Trade retailing and campaigning. We offer advice to, and provide a community for, fair trade shops and suppliers, sharing ideas and best practices. Our video “For A Few pesos More” from 2002 gives you a good idea of our aims.
We are proud to be recognised as a national fair trade network by the WFTO (World Fair Trade Organisation). As members of WFTO, we adhere to their Ten Principles of Fair Trade and work to support their aims. In a nutshell, their principles seek to create opportunities for disadvantaged producers by means of fair trade practices and accountability. This entails payment of a fair wage, no child or forced labour, gender equity, lack of discrimination, good working conditions, and respect for the environment. BAFTS is proud to be a member of WFTO (Europe) and WFTO (International). A few of our members are also WFTO members, but all our members must annually show transparency in their supply chains by referencing these 10 principles.
We hold our annual BAFTS’ week in the third week of September, where we encourage our members to get active and promote BAFTS and fair trade. Our Annual Conference and AGM are held in late May, and the venue changes from year to year, in order that as many of our members as possible have the opportunity to attend. Members are also encouraged to organise informal Regional meetings throughout the year. Our member organisation is bound by a Code of Conduct and Compliance Procedure which every member signs up to when their application is approved by us. This Code ensures that the principle of fairness also extends between our members.
Many BAFTS members have links with Fairtrade Towns campaigns as well as Fairtrade Nation campaigns in Wales and Scotland. From shop owners to online retailers to wholesalers, all our members share a passion – to support, promote and engage with fair trade.