Ten Thousand Villages
Ten Thousand Villages is the oldest and largest Fair Trade organization in North America, selling artisan-crafted personal accessories, home decor and gift items from around the globe.
Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit program of Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCC), the relief and development agency of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in North America. Ten Thousand Villages has its roots in the work begun by Edna Ruth Byler in 1946.
Ten Thousand Villages is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), a coalition of handicraft and agricultural producer organizations, and Fair Trade organizations from both the North and the South.
Our Mission Statement
Ten Thousand Villages creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.
Commerce with a Conscience
Men and women around the world have a simple dream – to earn an honest living, provide a home, food and education for their children, and to be gainfully employed in a job that brings dignity and joy. Ten Thousand Villages partners with thousands of talented artisans in a healthy business relationship.
Often referred to as ‘Fair Trade,' our philosophy of helping to build a sustainable future is based on the principle that trade should have a conscience. Through Fair Trade, artisans receive respect, dignity and hope from working hard and earning fair value for their work.
Our Beliefs Guide our Business
Ten Thousand Villages is a nonprofit Fair Trade Organization (FTO). FTOs are non-governmental organizations designed to benefit artisans, not to maximize profits. They market products from handicraft and agricultural organizations based in low-income countries, providing consumers with products that have been fairly purchased from sustainable sources.
Ten Thousand Villages is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), a global network of Fair Trade Organizations. WFTO’s mission is to improve the livelihood and well-being of disadvantaged producers by linking and promoting Fair Trade organizations and speaking out for greater justice in world trade. Over 270 FTOs in 60 countries form the basis of this network.
How We Work: Commerce with a Heart
People are truly at the heart of what we do. Our desire is to help give artisans the hope, dignity, joy and respect that come from earning a decent living. We purchase products from more than 100 different artisan groups in 29 countries, giving them fair value for their work.
Ten Thousand Villages works together with artisans in healthy business relationships. This focus shapes our entire business process, as outlined below:
1. Building Relationships
We first seek to nurture our relationships with the artisans we partner with. Our close connection with Mennonite Central Committee gives us a worldwide network of volunteers who have an existing relationship with artisan groups; understanding their culture, needs and skills is critical.
2. Developing Partnerships
Ten Thousand Villages works with artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. We believe in supporting the working poor and those who are disadvantaged or lack assistance. These women and men have basic skills enabling them to make a quality product that reflects their culture and tradition.
3. Determining Fair Prices
It is critical that artisans have a voice in determining what they believe to be fair pay. Working directly with artisan groups, we arrange prices that are mutually agreed upon. This dialogue is essential in respecting the dignity of artisans and reinforcing our partnership.
4. Paying for Product Up Front
Once prices are determined, Ten Thousand Villages ensures that artisan groups receive their compensation in full. We pay 50% in advance when an order is placed, and the rest once the shipment is ready. We settle all accounts at the time the final order leaves the country of origin.