Wednesday, June 27, 2012

{SCS} Getting Started: Community Trade

The picture above is of my favorite spot in Atlanta. Its one of the city's best kept secrets, in my humble opinion. I took this picture on the porch of Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Shop. Its just inside the perimeter, nestled on the Chattahoochee River inside an apartment complex. Its my favorite place to write, dream, and socialize. I was just there planning strategy for an awareness event on Monday night. I've already been there twice this month with plans to go at least two more times.... so I guess you could say I'm a frequent patron.
But Land of a Thousand Hills on the Chattahoochee is more than a coffee shop with good coffee and a great view. It is a place you can go to take part in changing the world. This company, founded by a local Atlana guy Jonathan, is changing the way we drink coffee, one cup at a time. Land of a Thousand Hills and their three coffee shops (Cumming, Roswell and Atlanta/Vinings) start their coffee process from the moment the beans are harvested through a model they call "Community Trade". They work directly with the coffee farmers, ensuring they receive a fair wage and that their community is taken care of. This company's hope is that through this business model, people will be taken care of and communities can build peace. You can read all about them on their website. (And you can order coffee too!)
There are other organizations that participate in models like Land of a Thousand Hills. The Go Fish Clothing and Jewelry Company was created out of its founder's frequent mission trips around the world. They work directly with artisans to ensure there is a fair price being paid for all products the company sells. I met the founders of Kanzi Crafts last year at a festival. They work with East African artisans to provide sustainable employment, and even give back an additional portion of the proceeds to support ministries in the region.
There are many more organizations who participate in direct trade or community type trading as a business model. Many of these organizations are faith based or attached to a ministry. They may not be fair trade certified (I have been told certification can be expensive for a small business) but they are working to end poverty through sustainable business models. And in many ways, these models work deeper than some fair trade models. They are about direct partnership, truly building a lasting relationship that hollistically helps the community. It's about relationships, which can be a lost art in modern business practices in the western world. And they are driven by people whose passions are for the people they serve, which is a mission I can get behind one hundred percent.

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