What is Fair Trade

Mifuko is a member of a WFTO and we work in accordance with Fair Trade principles.

1. Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers

Mifuko creates opportunities for women in rural villages in Kenya.

Mifuko works with a network of over 600 artisan producers, including basket makers, carpet weavers, bag makers and jewellery makers. The artisans are not working on Mifuko orders all year round. Over 90% of the artisans Mifuko works with come from a rural background and are economically very disadvantaged.

2. Transparency and Accountability

Mifuko´s supply chain is completely transparent.

Mifuko´s owners Minna Impiö and Mari Martikainen meet the artisan groups usually twice a year and Mifuko´s local consultant meets the artisans regularly twice a week. These meetings include planning methods for capacity building and business improvements, as well as discussing craft quality improvements, health issues and environmental sustainability.

3. Fair Trading Practices

Mifuko maintains long-term relationships with the artisan producers.

Mifuko takes into account the social, economic and environmental needs of artisan producers and does not maximize profit at their expense. Artisans respect contracts and deliver products on time and maintain the required quality. In case of any problems in delivery times or product quality, the artisans consult Mifuko´s local consultant. They negotiate and agree on compensation for the lower quality products. Mifuko understands new artisans need some time to reach the required quality standard. Mifuko buys also the substandard products, encouraging artisans to pass on traditional skills and helping artisan groups to employ more workers. Mifuko does not cancel or reject orders.

Mifuko provides 50% advance payment on placed orders. Mifuko ensures that payments are passed on to the producers.

Mifuko´s long-term relationships with the artisans are based on trust and mutual respect, which supports the development and growth of co-operation. Mifuko maintains active communication with artisan partners. Mifuko protects the cultural identity of the artisans. By creating demand Mifuko promotes traditional skills and supports passing these skills on to younger generations.

4. Payment of a Fair Price

Mifuko creates financial security for the artisans.

Mifuko buys products at a fair trade price, which is settled in mutual understanding with artisan producers.  The artisans are paid a higher price for a Mifuko Kiondo basket than they would earn by selling similar baskets at a local marketplace. Mifuko pays for the products by piece. In 2015 Mifuko changed the plastic material and its supplier and now provides the artisans with the material directly. Due to this change the profits of the artisans increased, because they now buy the material at a lower price than previously, but the price of a Kiondo was kept the same.

Access to finance can be a challenge for rural artisans and it is particularly important that they always receive their payments on time. Mifuko pays 50% for the work in advance and 50% afterwards using M-Pesa, a Kenyan mobile-phone based money transfer system. Mifuko pays the transaction fees. M-Pesa allows users to have deposits on their cell phones and either transfer it on to a bank account, send it to another M-Pesa user or draw cash at local M-Pesa kiosks, which are common throughout Kenya. To the artisans using M-Pesa as a payment method is much more flexible and practical than a money transfer to a bank. Less than 10 % of Kenyans have a bank account. Also, Mifuko´s basket makers´nearest bank is located in Machakos town and requires an all-day trip.

Mifuko creates opportunities to earn a livelihood as an artisan. Most of the artisans in Mifuko´s partner self help groups primarily earn their living as farmers and make Mifuko baskets when they have spare time. Crafting Mifuko baskets brings rural inhabitants, especially women, an important additional income and provides a living even in times of a serious drought.

5. Ensuring no Child Labour and Forced Labour

Mifuko visits the artisans regularly.

When women earn money of their own by working in self help groups, they improve the economic situation of the whole family. With the help of additional income provided by making Kiondos, the families can afford to send their children to school instead of having to send them to work. To ensure that no child labour is used in the production Mifuko´s consultant visits the artisan groups weekly.

6. Commitment to Non-Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment

Mifuko welcomes all adult artisans regardless of gender.

It is Mifuko´s policy to promote gender equity. Both women and men are welcome to join the artisan groups. Making Kiondo baskets is safe also for pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers, who have returned to work. The majority of basket makers are women aged between 29 and 70 years, but all adults regardless of gender are free to join the groups and start producing baskets. Making Mifuko baskets brings an important additional income to rural inhabitants, women especially.

7. Ensuring Good Working Conditions

Mifuko products are made in safe conditions. 

Mifuko is aware of the health and safety conditions of its partner artisan groups. Mifuko visits all groups regularly and discusses with them about safe conditions and improvements. Mifuko Kiondo baskets are made of food grade polyethylene plastic and natural sisal fiber. Both materials are safe to use and do not harm the health of the artisans. Mifuko´s artisans are mainly making Kiondos in their homes and once a week they gather in a shared meeting place. The artisans have access to safe and clean water and dry toilets. Working hours and work conditions of the artisans comply with conditions established by local and national laws and ILO conventions. 

8. Providing Capacity Building

Mifuko helps artisans to improve their skills.

Mifuko trains the artisan groups during weekly meetings. Mifuko works together with the groups  for product development and quality improvement issues including better finishing skills. These activities help the artisans to improve the quality of their work and develop their business.

9. Promoting Fair Trade

Mifuko raises awareness for the importance of fair trade.

To raise awareness of the importance of fair trade, Mifuko introduces its Fair Trade production to its customers. As a certified member, Mifuko promotes WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization) at many international exhibitions and fair events. WFTO is the world´s largest global network of Fair Trade Organisations. Its members demonstrate 100 % commitment to Fair Trade and apply the 10 WFTO Principles of Fair Trade to their supply chain. Mifuko provides customers with a lot information of Mifuko products and their makers.

10. Respect for the Environment

Mifuko´s production is environmentally sustainable.

Mifuko products are handmade. Mifuko uses local and recycled materials when possible. Sisal used in Kiondo baskets grows in the region where the products are made. Black polyethylene plastic is upcycled from cutting waste of local factory´s production.