Fair Trade in Egypt and Saving Our Local Heritage from Extinction

Via Fair Trade Egypt
Via Fair Trade Egypt
Via Fair Trade Egypt


If you don’t know what Fair trade is, well, let me tell you it’s a global social movement. It’s when the price we pay for products gives enough to producers for them to afford life’s essentials, like food, education and healthcare.


As an alternative way of doing trade by being based on partnerships, the interests of the workers are just as important as other commercial considerations, representing a solution to poverty and a model for development.  And in an exceedingly consumerist world, fair trade could mean the difference between life and death for some people, as well as for their heritage.


Unfortunately for us, not a lot of local efforts have been taking that direction, but not all hope is lost. Established in 1998, Fair Trade Egypt became the first fair trade producer network and retailer and has been promoting fair trade principles as a cultural, social, and environmentally responsible business ideal. It has been empowering local communities by offering disadvantaged artisans marketing, product development and trainings to sustain themselves and their unique crafts – in essence preserving parts of the Egyptian culture and heritage that would go extinct otherwise.


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FTE is currently working with about 34 artisan groups that translate into around 2,300 Egyptian craft artisans who are able to sustain crafts that were taught to them by their forefathers. It now provides more than 1,000 quality fairly traded products from these groups while providing them with the capacity building, technical assistance and product development they need to compete in today’s fierce market.


The products handled by Fair Trade Egypt come from communities spread out all over the country. From Fayoum, Sinai, Siwa, and Beheira, and all the way to Sohag, Aswan and Shalateen. They range from pottery and glazed ceramics, to wooden and buffalo horn sculptures, to beaded accessories, to hand-woven kilims, fabrics and clothing, to leather and palm tree products. These products are not only displayed in Fair Trade Egypt’s two showrooms in Zamalek and Maadi in Cairo, but also exported to fair trade distributors in Germany, the USA, as well as Italy.


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The products are truly a feast for the eyes, and the soul! Each single hand-made piece has a real pair of hands behind it, a real human being, a real story.


But wait, there’s more. This weekend, FTE is launching its 5th exclusive collection “Earth Tones” Winter Edition. The reception will be held on Saturday, October 29th, in FTE’s showroom in Maadi from 5 pm till 9 pm.


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“The collection comprises more than 40 new products and designs crafted by 15 artisan groups of approximately 700 artisans, mostly women, located in eight different governorates. It reflects the evolution of a traditional product into modern and trendy home products. For instance, turning the traditional Akhmim textiles into bed covers and sofa throws, or ethnic embroidery of Geziret Shandawyl into fashionable table runners. Moreover, several items of the collection combine more than one craft like alabaster units with brass charms, in a clustering technique, that Fair Trade Egypt succeeded to implement in numerous crafts ,” Hayam Mansour, Head of the product development team, stated.



WE SAID THIS: If you’re going to be around Cairo on the 29th, you won’t want to miss this. Click here for more details on the event.