Around the World in 7 Ways


"Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life."

— Nelson Mandela

Poverty remains a terrible reality for many of our world's citizens. While it exists everywhere, it's most severe in developing countries, where many live in extreme poverty. According to recent data from The World Bank, more than 700 million people—half of them children—live on less than $1.90 a day. It's hard to fathom so many people attempting to live on so little.

At Serrv, our mission as a fair trade nonprofit is to break the cycle of poverty for disadvantaged artisans and farmers worldwide. Why? Because we believe that freedom from poverty is a basic human right, one that paves the way for achieving other human rights, including education, secure housing, equality, and dignity.

But we can't do it alone. (See what we accomplished together, by the numbers, in our 2017 annual report.) Below we share the seven ways you supported our work to help end poverty last year.

Help our nonprofit provide special opportunities to artisans, including training, tools, and scholarships for children.

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Your fair trade dollars at work:

1. Creating employment. For many in the world, handcrafting or farming are the only options for income. Your purchases empowered women and men in disadvantaged communities to find self-worth and hope through the work of their hands.

Last year, Serrv customers purchased 580,537 handmade items from 24 countries, directly supporting 7,697 artisans and farmers.

In India: Rahees, who works in the city of Agra, is proud of the designs he creates for our handwoven rugs and pillows.

2. Paying fair wages. Paying our artisans a sustainable fair wage is central to improving their quality of life. Our partners always set the price for their products, confirming accuracy and fairness as calculated by their country's specific living wage and the Fair Wage Guide.

We pay up front. Serrv pays its artisans 50% at the time they confirm our order, and the remaining 50% when the order ships—regardless of how the products sell. Such payment terms are unheard of in the retail industry, but are critically important to helping our artisans earn sustainable incomes, purchase raw materials, and reduce business risk.

In Vietnam: Tran Thi Kha earns nearly three times her previous salary as a receptionist creating paper art with our fair trade partner Mai Handicrafts. "I love this work because it's beautiful," she says.

3. Supporting disadvantaged communities. Our partners make it a priority to invest in development projects that benefit the greater good. As a result, sustainable communities have been built on the ripple effects of fair trade.

With your donations, Serrv partnered with Catholic Relief Services to help fund the construction of seven straw storage "banks" for basket weaving collectives in Ghana. These banks allow weavers to purchase straw at a lower bulk price, increasing year-round employment and profits, which are channeled back into the communities.

In Ghana: The weavers who make our gorgeous Bolgatanga baskets now have access to straw year-round thanks to a donation from Serrv and Catholic Relief Services.

4. Promoting equality. Because women living in poverty suffer astonishing degrees of discrimination and lack of opportunity, we emphasize empowering female artisans and supporting their development in self-sufficiency and independence.

Last year, more than 5,800 of Serrv's artisans and farmers were women. Thanks to the commitment of our fair trade partners, many of these women are able to earn a reliable income while working from home, or access free daycare or scholarships for their children.

In Bangladesh: In a country where half the population lives in poverty, Serrv partner Prokritee provides fair wages, training, and design assistance for widows, single mothers, and heads-of-household with little to no other income.

5. Advancing health and safety. Representing members from more than 400 fair trade organizations and enterprises, the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) sets the strictest fair trade criteria for its members and producers—including those related to health and safety.

In 2017, Serrv was 1 of only 7 U.S.-based fair trade retail members of the WFTO, which guarantees safe and healthy working conditions for Serrv's artisans, as set by national and International Labor Organization laws. Many of our artisans also receive health insurance and/or emergency health coverage.

In India: Serrv partner Sasha Craft Producers provided eye exams and low-cost eyeglasses to their artisans.

6. Providing disaster relief. When natural disasters and other tragedies strike, those living in poverty may never fully recover. Serrv provides much-needed emergency support to our artisans and families to help them—and their communities—rebuild and heal.

In 2017, global government and humanitarian organizations sounded the alarm about a severe hunger crisis in East Africa affecting 25 million people—more than half of them children. Working with partners including Catholic Relief Services and Divine Chocolate, Serrv launched a donation campaign to address this crisis. With your help, we raised $14,600, which was matched by and donated to World Vision, a key humanitarian organization providing on-the-ground food, clean water, sanitation, and medical assistance to those affected.

In East Africa: Our famine relief campaign got a big boost from World Vision, which provided a 7x match from all Serrv donations. Photo: World Vision.

7. Accessing education. An African proverb says, "If we educate a boy, we educate one person. If we educate a girl, we educate a family and a whole community." Providing education for girls extends beyond the classroom, helping to reduce fertility and maternal mortality rates, raise women's wages, and increase reinvestment in families and communities.

We were pleased to devote a portion of your 2017 donations to partner Get Paper Cooperative in Nepal, providing 350 annual scholarships for girls.

In Nepal: Scholarships provide girls--and their communities--opportunities for a brighter future.

Please help us continue to expand this work in 2018 by making a donation today.

Help our nonprofit provide special opportunities to artisans, including training, tools, and scholarships for children.

GIVE $10

Only together can we eradicate global poverty. Thank you for supporting Serrv and empowering our artisans to create a better life.

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