About Our Organization
Ecuador FairTrade Association is a group of seven Fair Trade Certified flower producers from Ecuador. We have 122 hectares in production and around 1,500 workers.
Our farms formed the association with the purpose of offering our customers a wide range of products, large volumes, and centralized customer service. Ecuador Fair Trade does not charge any additional fees to the customers for its services.
When you purchase products from our farms, 10% of our sales go directly to the workers’ account, as a Standard of the Fair Trade Certification. These funds are invested by workers on projects related to education, health, small businesses, loans and many other initiatives to improve their lives.
Our group offer more than 200 varieties of Fair Trade Certified roses. Additionally, we carry more than 25 types of focals, fillers and greens, and welcome requests of specific bouquet arrangements from customers.
Cancer Prevention Campaigns
Esther Puco is a worker at a Fair Trade Certified farm. She has worked for more than 14 years with roses. During 9 years she worked in the harvest, and nowadays she is a supervisor. Months ago she was assisted by the Cancer Prevention Program that now is being executed in the farm as one of the projects financed with the Fair Trade Premium. “I was examined in one the cancer screening campaigns in the farm, and the doctors told me that I could have Cancer. I felt very sad. My husband told me we couldn’t wait to get treatment.
The workers’ association paid for everything: diagnosis in a local hospital, treatment, and medication before and after. Now I’m very happy and thankful for the help because otherwise I couldn’t have been able to afford the treatment.” Esther is one of the hundreds of workers that have benefited from money that comes from the Fair Trade roses that you purchase.
Esther Puco, Jardines Piaveri.
Dental Care at the farm
Nancy Chancusig and her family did not use to go to the dentist unless they were having a dental emergency. The cost of visiting a dentist was too high, and they were not aware of the importance of having their teeth checked regularly.
About a year ago, the workers’ committee and management at Agrocoex joined efforts to install an in-house dental care center at Agrocoex. This center is partially financed with money from the Fair Trade premium, and partially with a contribution from management.
In this dental care center, workers pay 5% of the market price of dental care. In addition to this, they are more aware of the importance of dental care, because the dentist at the farm constantly educates them about this issue.
“Now we go to the dentist more often not only because it is not expensive, but because it is close to work and we know our dentist”.
Nancy Chancusig, Agrocoex.
Breast cancer prevention
Marcela Cholango is a flower worker who had never been screened for breast cancer.
Just like Marcela, most women at the flower farms have never taken a breast cancer exam because they are expensive.Furthermore, many female workers do not know that breast cancer can be detected early through regular screenings, potentially increasing the changes for succesful treatment.
This yer the worker’s committee at the farm where Marcela works decided to start a project to screen for breast cancer in workers and their relatives.
All costs were covered with fair trade money, and the results were so remarkable that from now on, the workers’ committee will use the Fair Trade premium to finance exams for all female workers and workers’ relatives every year, and subsequent treatments if necessary.
“The attention at the hospital was excellent. I’m glad I took the exams. They found a small cyst in my breast and now I know I can get treatment for it. I recommend all workers to take part of this project from now on.”
English Courses for Children
Soraya Falcón has been working for 8 years at a rose farm in post harvest. She has two children who currently are attending English classes together with many other workers’ children. These courses are part of the benefits workers receive from the Fair Trade Premium. Soraya explains that: “With the English classes my children have improved skills at school and they are getting better grades.” Also, the extra classes provide workers with daycare for their children while they are at work. Soraya also describes the benefits she received from the worker’s union when she obtained access to credit and was able to buy a washing machine: “The washing machine helps me save two hours a day, and I can spend that time with my children and help them doing their homework”.
Training is overcoming for workers
Mathilde Pruna has been working for 9 years at a rose farm. Like hundreds of other workers, when she started to work at the rose farm she didn’t know how to use a computer and how important it could be for her in order to improve her self-esteem. “I haven’t finished high school, but when I started taking computer courses in the farm, I felt motivated to continue my studies. Finally this year I graduated from high school.”
Such goals can be achieved by workers in Fair Trade farms, thanks to the support of the Fair Trade premium and the workers’ associations.
More Ecuador Fair Trade Projects
In the Fair Trade Certified farms, the projects developed by workers are developed almost completely with the funding of the Fair Trade Premium. Rubén Velóz is the president of the “UNIÓN Y TRABAJO WORKERS ASSOCIATION”.
He has pointed out the importance of the summer courses in the farms. “During the summer, there are many courses for the children in the farm, such as soccer, music and dance courses. This is the opportunity for them to spare a good time playing and learning.” These courses go beyond entertainment – they avoid children being home alone while their parents are working.
Ruben Veloz, Nevado
Computer Lab for workers and their children
Many of the Fair Trade Certified Farms in Ecuador have established training centers in which they offer a wide range of courses. Also these centers are equipped with computers and Internet connection, which gives the workers and their children easy access to technology.
In one of the farms 15% of the Fair Trade Premium has been allocated to the development of their training center. Workers also contacted the Ministry of Education of Ecuador and obtained an authorization to issue real technical diplomas. Now workers and their children can get trained in their workplace, and obtain a diploma that will benefit their résumé.
During the last Information Technology course, 24 young students obtained their diplomas. Three of these students were Roxana Clavon’s children. She is a worker at the farm and is very proud of her three children having finished the course. “My children took the course during the summer, and now they won’t have any difficulties when they take computer classes at school,” says Roxana.
Housing and Loans Projects
Esther Mora is a single mother and she has one child. She has been working in postharvest during 4 years. She remembers the difficult times that she had to pass through because of her mother’s cancer. “I didn’t have enough money to pay for the treatment, and then I got a loan from the workers’ association in the farm.” Esther also used the loans to fix the water sealer of her house and to star her own business breeding chickens.
Esther Mora, Nevado
Loans for workers
Pilar Rocha has been working in the harvest for 9 years, “Thanks to Fair Trade, I could get loans that really helped me. I bought a sewing machine for me, and it helped me because I studied fashion. The loans also have helped me to buy school supplies for my children. For me, it is comfortable to pay back the loans because of the low interest rates and the time they gave me to pay.” Access to microcredit is one of many benefits that workers have in Fair Trade certified farms. With the support of those who buy certified roses, workers’ associations can help their members in many ways.
Pilar Rocha, Jardines Piaveri
Loans for home improvement
Edison Imbaquingo works monitoring plagues at Hoja Verde in Cayambe, Ecuador. He started building his own house some years ago, but eventually he ran out of money and had to move with his wife and two children to an unfinished house.
For some years now, the workers’ committees at Hoja Verde have been providing workers with loans at very low interest rates, thanks to the premium obtained from fair trade. Only this year, they gave out $62,000 to 20 workers. The interest rates for these loans rounds up to 6% when interests at the market reach 18 – 20%.
Edison obtained $3,000 to pay in a 5 year period. He finished his house in 7 months, and will be done with his payments in a few months. Then he plans to ask for a new loan to buy appliances for his home.
“At market prices I could have never finished building my house. Now thanks to Fair Trade I have finished it and plan to purchase home appliances. I am grateful to Fair Trade because now my wife and children have a better place to live”.
Edison Imbaquingo, Hoja Verde.
Housing projects funded with Fair Trade Premium
Some of our Fair Trade certified farms have already started housing projects that will change the lives of our workers and families forever. In these projects, the management of the farm and the workers’ committees work together to buy lands and build housing for the entire workers’ community.
The main objectives of these projects are providing permanent housing to workers and their families, preventing illegal acquisition of land, which can be common in our rural areas, and strengthening the sense of belonging and identity of these people.
One of our farms have already invested $280,000 in buying a 4 hectares estate to build such a project. For workers such as Martha Apaja, who is part of this farm and a single mother, this project is a unique opportunity that will change her life and that of her children.