Verified Fair Trade

Since our founding in 1989, Mayan Hands has been guided by the principles of fair trade. We are a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation, a community of North American businesses dedicated to fair trade. We undergo rigorous evaluation and strive to create positive change through all of our work: socially, economically, and environmentally. We work with our artisan partners in long-term partnerships built on mutual trust.

What is fair trade? Mayan Hands is committed to these Fair Trade Principles: 

• Create Opportunities for Economically and Socially Marginalized Producers
Maya women are the most disadvantaged sector in Guatemalan society, experiencing discrimination and exclusion. Many artisans working with Mayan Hands do not speak Spanish and are illiterate, because when they were children only boys were sent to school. Lack of formal education limits their ability to earn income. Participation in fair trade provides a dignified path out of poverty to prosperity.

• Develop Transparent and Accountable Relationships
Fair trade ensures relationships that are open, fair, consistent, and respectful. We have been working with some cooperatives for more than 30 years, sharing laughter and tears, challenges and prosperity. Through regular visits and frequent open communication, we enjoy strong bonds of mutual trust and respect.

• Build Capacity
So that our artisan partners can improve their skills and their access to markets, we provide educational opportunities such as business skill development and leadership training, technical assistance with particular artisan skills, and workshops in innovative techniques and product design.

• Promote Fair Trade
Mayan Hands seeks to raise awareness about fair trade and the possibility of greater justice in the global economic system. We collaborate with other fair trade advocates on the local, regional and national level to demonstrate that trade can be a positive force for improving living standards, health, education, the distribution of power, and the environment. Let us know if you'd like us to talk with your group!

• Pay Promptly and Fairly
Our artisan partners set prices that reflect the true costs of labor, time, materials, and sustainable growth. When placing an order, Mayan Hands provides raw materials like thread, so artisans do not have to go into debt to begin working. We then pay immediately upon delivery. Each cooperative has transparent systems for ensuring that income is distributed fairly between members.

• Support Safe and Empowering Working Conditions
Mayan Hands artisan partners work in their home where they can work according to their own schedule and balance work with other responsibilities.  Artisans are organized in groups with democratically elected leadership and collective decision-making.

• Ensure the Rights of Children
All children have the right to security, education, and play. Our artisan partners are passionate about education for their children. Mayan Hands offers support in the form of school supplies and scholarships for the daughters of our artisan partners.

• Cultivate Environmental Stewardship
Fair trade seeks ways for current generations to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. As an organization, we reduce, reuse, reclaim, and recycle materials wherever possible. Products made from natural materials and recycled denim create less negative environmental impact.

• Respect Cultural Identity
Weaving keeps Maya women connected to their ancestors and the sacred Maya cosmovision. Through fair trade, Mayan Hands supports our artisan partners in their quest to bring their families out of extreme poverty as they keep their cherished Maya culture alive.