An alternative trading organization (ATO) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) aligned with the fair trade movement which, according to the European Fair Trade Association (EFTA), aims “to contribute to the alleviation of poverty in developing regions of the world by establishing a system of trade that allows marginalized producers in developing regions to gain access to developed markets”.
Alternative trade organizations are often based in political and religious groups although their purpose and operation is secular. The origin of this type of organization is related to political causes in the United States and Europe, active since the 1960s: fundamentally, a belief in a commitment to moral principles based on social, economic and trade justice.
- EZA Fairer Handel (Austria).
- Oxfam-Magasins du monde and Oxfam-Wereldwinkels (Belgium).
- Alter Eco, Solidar’Monde and Artisans du Monde (France).
- Gepa Fair Trade Company and El Puente (Germany).
- GtmAltromercato (Italy).
- AgroFair and Fair Trade Original (Holland).
- Alternativa3, Ideas, Setem, and Intermon Oxfam (Spain).
- Claro Fair Trade (Switzerland).
- Cafedirect, Traidcraft, Oxfam Trading, Twin Trading, Jambohut and Divine Chocolate (United Kingdom).
- Equita, La Siembra and Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-Op (Canada).
- Dean’s Beans, Ten Thousand Villages, Equal Exchange, SERRV International and Handcrafting Justice (United States).
An alternative trade organization is one of equal partnership and respect- partnership among the producers of a region in development and importing, stores, organization of certification and consumers.
Alternative trade also tries “to humanize” the trade process, reducing the number of intermediaries between the producer and the consumer so that buyers can know the identity, culture and living conditions of the producers.
Alternative Trading Organizations support the following fair trade principles and practices in the commercial trading relationships:
- Creation of opportunities for the most disadvantaged producers.
- Transparency and “accountability” involving supervision of an organization so that its operation is optimum.
- Promotion of the economic independence of the producers.
- Payment of a fair price in a regional and local context.
- Gender equity.
- Establishment of a safe and healthy working environment.
- Respectful environmental practices and the promotion of responsible production methods
- More information about alternative trading organizations in Wikipedia.