Since our humble beginnings, Oliberté’s stated goal has been to participate in the growth of sustainable economies by demonstrating what’s possible through the tenets of fair trade. When we as consumers buy into burgeoning trends such as “Fast Fashion”, we force designers to quickly respond to quickly evolving trends, putting considerable pressure on the supply chain and production facilities. It is this pressure that often incentivizes poor working conditions, to the detriment of the workers.
To support the rights of workers both during work and in their communities, Oliberté subscribes to a few programs and beliefs that lead to the long term success and happiness of the areas we work in.
Trade Not Aid
This concept is one of our founding principles, as we believe it is the foundation for positive growth. This is not to say that we disagree with the application of foreign aid, it is often incredibly vital during natural disasters or a form of short term relief from unforeseen circumstances. With that being said, we are among the camp that sees long-term general economic aid as a means of stifling the necessary economic change that brings with it sustainability. Most foreign aid is attached to conditionalities, and it often undermines local businesses that cannot compete with free goods. By opening trade channels and encouraging skills development, these areas are given the tools to develop at a natural and sustainable pace.
Community Premium Fund
To achieve our Fair Trade Certified™ status, we complied with over 200 individual requirements that encourage fair trade practices and a healthy community. One of the major requirements was the creation of a Community Premium fund, which is filled with a percentage of our total sales. This fund is then available to be invested collectively into any social needs identified by our employees. If no pressing need exists at the time, our employees are able split this fund as a cash bonus to their salaries, which often amounts to a full months work. Even without direct investment, that cash bonus can go a long way to stimulate the local economy, or aid in important factors such as their children’s education. No matter how they choose to spend this endowment, the extra money circulating aids the community as a whole.
These are but a few programs that shape our business and its vision. While the upfront cost may be more than a typical production facility, it pays dividends on a healthy and happy workforce who can work with pride and dignity, which we feel reflects in the quality shoes and bags they produce.