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Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans (BFTA) is a not-for-profit Palestinian NGO created in 2009 by local community members that works with the Bethlehem handicraft community. BFTA is committed to fair trade principles with a desire to bring fair prices and working conditions to every handicraft producer in the West Bank and Bethlehem area.

BFTA work with different groups:

  • Family-owned Olive Wood workshops
  • Women (from home and refugee camps) working with Embroidery, basket-weaving, Jewelry and Recycled Glass
  • Disabled groups working with Felt Wool (Ma’an Lil-Hayat), Recycled Papers (Al-Basma Center)
  • Al-Malath Center (Olive Wood products)

Although artisans produce beautiful products, there are very limited sales in Palestine. The unstable political situation reflects badly on those trying to achieve a stable income especially if they solely depend on tourism. Since tourists are discouraged from visiting Palestine, BFTA came up with an alternative solution.  

"We need to export; we need to reach out for international markets in hopes that we will be able to provide marginalized producers with a stable source of income. The way we work is highlighted with our Fair Trade flag, and we proudly wave this flag as we continue to emphasis and highlight the importance of ethical work starting from the workshop the products are made in until the moment it reaches the end-customer. We constantly come up with ways in order to educate our artisans/producers on the fair trade principles. We have recently had a peer visit which helped us in having a clear monitoring system and an audit visit from the WFTO ensuring that everyone’s work is being down under the name of Fair Trade. It worked very well for us, now we are official members of the World Fair Trade Organization working with producers who respect and follow the Fair Trade principles. Besides from stabilizing our artisan’s incomes, we are on the road to minimizing harm in our environment, ensuring a healthy work environment on every level and encouraging education so that one day our artisans are able to market their own products."

In order to empower artisans, BFTA offer them courses to boost their skills and knowledge. The type of courses previously offered include:

  • Computer IT courses
  • English courses
  • Embroidery and basket-weaving courses for women
  • Quality control and product-finishing courses
  • Product-pricing courses
  • Environmental health and safety courses
  • Fair Trade Awareness.

 

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