How it works: Producers of fair trade products charge their customers (Dr. Bronner’s and 3rd party buyers) a 10% premium on the cost of raw materials (such as harvested coconuts) and labor. The premium goes into a fair trade fund administered by a committee of farmers, farm workers, factory workers, agricultural field officers, and (in the minority) company management. Committees meet to assess progress on existing projects, review budgets, and select new project proposals submitted by committee members and the community.Initially our fair trade sister companies invested a significant portion of their premiums in composting plants and other farm improvement programs, but as annual receipts grew (projects now generate over $350,000 in fair trade premiums a year) committees began to address more areas of need: medical equipment and facilities, drinking water wells, toilet facilities, mosquito nets to prevent the spread of malaria, education, improvements to staff homes, electricity hookups, bridges and other infrastructure, and environmental restoration.
Realizing the profound impact of fair trade projects, Dr. Bronner’s, in collaboration with third parties, decided to fund a range of projects beyond those paid for by the fair trade premium. In all, we’ve raised and invested over $220,000 (above the fair trade premium), offering host communities and farms even more opportunities to imagine and implement change.