Global Mothers helps consumers “buy good”

The Global Mothers team at the Folk Fest Bazaar. Photo courtesy of Amanda Goulding (far right).

The Global Mothers team at the Folk Fest Bazaar. Photo courtesy of Amanda Goulding (far right).

The tragedy at Rana Plaza in April 2013 – the collapse of the Bangledeshi garment factory that killed more than 1,100 people – has brought a new wave of interest to shopping ethically, but it isn’t always easy. Sometimes its unclear who is making goods for Western markets, and under what conditions. Even charities are under scrutiny, as people become more wary of where their funds are going.

Enter Global Mothers, a small not-for-profit organization based in Vancouver. Their motto is “buy good” – something they make extremely easy. Global Mothers isn’t a charity. Instead, it opens up the North American market to existing companies in developing countries to help facilitate trade and foster stronger economies.

Global Mothers collaborates with nongovernment organizations that are already working with local artists. In some cases, they help develop new designs but generally they purchase ready-made products and then sell them in North America. They also offer entrepreneurial training and work with artisans to develop their skills.

“We’re super choosy on who we team up with,” said operations coordinator Amanda Goulding. “Not only do these companies have to supply good, safe working conditions for their employees, and pay fairly, they also have to benefit the communities they work in.”

One NGO has a birthing center, where they also train their artisans to become doulas. Another has in-house daycare that benefits their employees as well as other community members.

According to the UN, 70 per cent of the world’s 1.3 billion people living below the poverty line are women, a statistic that inspired Global Mother’s founder and Managing Director Katie Mogan Graham to focus her organization on mothers helping mothers. Goulding estimates that 90 per cent of the artisans Global Mothers works with are single mothers.

This focus dictates the products they sell – baby accessories and toys, household decorations and, more recently, jewelry. Each item comes with a tag that has the name of the artist who made the item, as well as how long it took them and where they are from.

While Global Mothers does not accept donations – it prefers the transparency that buying and selling directly gives customers – it does donate its profits to the NGOs it works with. The not-for-profit organization is able to keep overhead down by operating out of its warehouse, located in downtown Vancouver, and doing most of its business through an online store.

Global Mothers also offers the option of hosting Global Parties. For these, it ships a promotional kit, as well as any items pre-ordered by guests through an e-catalogue. Shoppers who live in or around Vancouver, are welcome to view products at the warehouse before purchasing.

Hannah Rebecca Ackeral

Third year journalism student, pop culture junkie.

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