The MZ Blog

Global Goods Partners

At Manos Zapotecas, we feel very fortunate to have a such a stellar community of like-minded fair trade fashion brands within the Fair Trade Federation. We have connected with five of them in order to bring our greater community five weeks of giveaways building up to World Fair Trade Day on May 11th. For Week 2, Global Goods Partners is giving away a Color Block Bracelet on Facebook and a Stacked Paper Necklace on Instagram. 

Global Goods Partners (GGP) is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to alleviating poverty and promoting social justice in the Global South. Founded in 2005, GGP creates economic opportunity for women in some of the world’s poorest communities by providing access to the US market for the fair trade, handmade products they produce. Working in partnership with more than 40 partners in 20 countries, GGP provides technical assistance, product development, operational expertise and small capacity building grants to our community based partners. With this support, GGP is empowering women to create sustainable change -advancing the health and well-being of their families and communities.

We caught up with Global Goods Partners to learn more.

global goods partners

1. How and why was Global Goods Partners started?

As professionals in the international development field, Catherine Lieber Shimony and Joan Shifrin traveled to impoverished areas around the globe to support community-based economic initiatives. Time and again, they met dynamic women that were producing beautiful, handmade goods, yet lacked access to sustainable markets in which to sell their products. Catherine and Joan saw first-hand how women in marginalized communities throughout Asia, Africa, and the Americas were able to advance their families’ well-being only after their income was stabilized. In 2005, Catherine and Joan founded Global Goods Partners (GGP) to create sustainable positive change in the lives of women and their families by providing a bridge to the US market for their handmade, fair trade products.

Today, GGP works with nearly 40 groups from 20 countries, which collectively employ over 3000 women, providing market access, product development, technical support and small grants. We are harnessing the surge in popularity among U.S. consumers for handmade accessories to create jobs, generate income, and change women’s lives around the world.

2. Would you like to talk about your mission, vision and commitment to fair trade?

We believe that if given the proper infrastructure and support, women can forge a path out of poverty for themselves and their children. This holistic approach to poverty alleviation is at the heart of our mission. We are dedicated to playing our part in the global fight against poverty and to empowering women by providing economic opportunities.

Fair Trade is much more than providing a fair living wage—it’s about developing relationships based on mutual respect. We are committed to each of our artisan partners and by developing long-lasting relationships we are able to understand the challenges they face in their communities. This allows us to best serve our partners through our small grants programs which, coupled with the income-generation opportunities we provide, fosters sustainable community development.

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3. Can you give me a bit of insight into your design and production process?

From access to raw materials to differences in handcrafting techniques, developing new products with each of our 40 partners is a unique process that comes with its own set of challenges. However, the one common thread is that we are dedicated to developing quality, marketable products. To us, this manifests in two ways. First, we are committed to sustaining traditional crafting techniques. For many of the women in our network, the craft they are practicing today has been passed down through generations of women in their families. We work closely with our partners to make sure the products we design highlight their incredible skills while staying trendy and fashion-forward.

Second, we only use locally available materials when developing new products. Even though this does present challenges at times, by employing this sustainable business model, our partners are not dependant on GGP to produce their products. This allows them to grow their business in their local and regional markets, as well as, create product for the international market with GGP.

4. Who is your typical consumer and how does your brand fit in to their fashion sense and lifestyle? 

Our typical consumer likes to use her purchasing power to create social change, but doesn’t want to sacrifice style to do so. That’s where GGP comes in. We love offering fashion-forward designs to those who want to make a difference. Simply by shopping, consumers can help eradicate global poverty and promoting social justice in poor communities around the world!

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