We are each dependent upon one another and thus responsible for each other and for future generations.
Since 2005, Belart has been partnering with artisans in many regions of Colombia, Ecuador and Vietnam. Through our dedication to Fair Trade, we help develop opportunities for displaced and vulnerable artisans from co-ops and cottage businesses.
We connect our artisans and their products to growing and sustainable international marketplaces and provide them with a living wage, thus empowering them to make a difference in their families and communities.
Thanks to Fair Trade and the work of Belart, our artisans are able to earn dignified and reliable incomes.
From the Cloud Forests of the Pacific Coasts to the dry Northern Guajira Desert to the Andes Mountains and to the Amazon Rainforest Basin in Colombia, women’s empowerment groups are helping individuals build self-confidence and sustainability for themselves, their families and communities. This is the power of Fair Trade.
Thanks to these Fair Trade practices, more children of artisans are now going to school, driving average literacy rates up and staying in school rather than having to work earning extra income in for their families. Artisans are also embracing education and vocational training and more girls are continuing their education and becoming empowering female voices and status in their communities. They enjoy comfortable, safe and friendly work environments and respectful and dignified trading relationships, while remaining independent.
Through Fair Trade, Belart harnesses the power of business as a force for good, impacting the environment and the communities we serve, while making a difference and "walking the story instead of just telling the story".
1. Fique-Agave Artisans - Mountain Group:
+/- 60 artisans (85% are women, single parents and heads of family)
Belart has been working with the Santos family grouping since 2006. Diana, her sisters and husband and their three daughters live in the mountainous region of Tolima where for many years they have been caught in a crossfire between the paramilitary and the insurgent guerilla and cocaine drug groups that have controlled these territories during the 50+ years of Colombia’s civil war. The Santos family and their communities in this region (the innocent victims of this conflict) were made to cultivate cocaine farms at gunpoint and many of their close family members have been killed by these guerrilla and para-military groups in order for their reign of terror to prevail.
After ten years of hard work at Agave weaving and jewelry making, and thanks to the international Fair Trade market opportunities that Belart created for this group, the Santos have been able to turn their lives around for the better. Instead of being dangerously and illegally coerced to plant coca fields and work in the drug work, they now have the means to oppose and stand up to the drug lords and trafficking and create safer and more sustainable lives for themselves and their families. The Santos have built their first home and work space, bought their first truck and have hired many more family and community members to work with them to supply the growing international markets with their Agave-Fique products.
Thanks to their hard work and to the international Fair Trade market opportunities that Belart creates, members of this group have been able to turn their lives around. Instead of being dangerously and illegally coerced to plant coca fields and work in the illegal drug work, they now can oppose and stand up to drug lords and trafficking and be able to create safer lives for themselves and their families .
2. Horn Jewelry and Wayuu Mochila Bags Groups - Guajira, Wayuu Desert:
+/- 700 artisans (85% are women, single parents and heads of family)
Belart has been working with this group since 2006. The Wayuu natives are weavers and horn jewelry makers. They are a very proud community who honor their ancestors and traditions and cherish Mother Earth and the environment. They lived very simple, organic and sustainable lives in their communities in la Guajira before this civil war violence displaced them to the inner cities, exposing them to devastating prostitution and poverty.
We work with this group of women who design our unique hand-crocheted Wayuu mochila bags and some of our horn jewelry.
Even if they have been displaced and separated from families and communities for many years, Fair Trade has helped the groups stay together. With sustainable wages and the possibility of selling their products in international markets, group members are able to work in a safe environment, earn fair wages and safeguard their culture and traditions for generations to come.
Belart donates a percentage from the sales of the Wayuu mochila bags to create schools for girls. We work to create opportunities to encourage girls to attend and stay in school, rather than marry at age 12-13, as is customary to the Wayuu culture.
3. Tagua Jewelry Group - Bosa, Tumaco, Choco and Amazon Region:
+/- 500 artisans (85% are women, single parents and heads of family)
Belart has been working with these groups and co-ops since 2006. They are located in several geographical regions, most of them in Cloud and Rain Forests along the Amazon and Pacific coast of Colombia, where the tagua palm trees grow.
These regions have also seen many years of violence and these groups have been caught in a crossfire between the paramilitary and the insurgent guerilla and cocaine drug groups that have controlled these territories during the 50+ years of Colombia’s civil war. These communities have been the innocent victims of these years of insurgency where entire communities and families have been killed or torn apart in order for the guerrilla-drug lord’s reign of terror to prevail.
Even if they have been displaced and separated from families and communities for many years, Fair Trade has helped the groups stay together. With sustainable wages and the possibility of selling their products in international markets, group members are able to work in a safe environment, earn fair wages, and safeguard their culture and traditions for generations to come.
One tagua artisan, Carolina, is a young single mom and the head of her family. She asked us for our support when she was considering branching out from a co-op to start her own small business.
Belart supported her with a small startup loan, a car and by connecting her to Fair Trade markets for her products. Through her hard work, she has now has been able to hire her other sisters and expand her business. She now supports several families and is able to send her children, nieces and nephews to school.
4. Pre-Columbian Gold/Silver Jewelry Group:
18 artisans (90% of whom are women and heads of family)
These artisans live in the Bosa region on the outskirs of Bogota, Columbia. We have been working with this partner since 2007, making our creations and opening Fair Trade markets for gold and silver vintage lace jewelry and lost wax Pre-Columbian gold and silver jewelry creations.
This small family co-op has grown from two members to 18. When we met them in 2007, the entire family, including their children were working in the trade and not able to go to school. Now, in addition to their growth in adult members, there is no child labor involved. The children are all able to go to school and the group has benefited from a 20% increase in sustainable income. This also enabled the artisans to upgrade their machinery and tools, making their production methods both more efficient and more safe and environmentally-friendly.
5. Horn Jewelry - Vietnam:
3 villages and +/- 135 artisans ( 75% of whom are women)
Since 2011, we have partnered with several WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization), low-income artisan groups in a few rural villages in Vietnam. Together we are creating meaningful and sustainable products and opening them up to international markets for Fair Trade.
Our Up-Cycled horn jewelry designs are envisioned in Vermont and hand-carved in Vietnam from upcycled, discarded bovine or water buffalo horn that has been shed or discarded after the animals die from natural causes.
6. Eco-Resin Group (Our Newest Group)
a small co-op of 4 young artisans
This group of artisans is from the central mountainous Andean Region in Colombia. We have been working with this partner since mid-2015, designing new lines and opening very successful international markets for their products.