The concluding months of 2011 were marked by a period of great change and innovation in the Fair Trade movement: a time of unprecedented forward thinking and passionate debate about what it means to be Fair Trade Certified.
A little more than a decade ago, two Iraqi American siblings were vacationing at the Grand Canyon when they decided to create a tea company that prized art and social justice.
Today, Numi Organic Tea in Oakland is the leading brand importer of fair-trade certified teas in the United States.
For co-founder Ahmed Rahim, the desire to build a people-focused company came out of his experience as a child growing up in Cleveland, the son of Iraqi immigrants.
Social entrepreneurs, those organizations and individuals who work to improve major social issues, don't have the networks and financial systems of traditional entrepreneurs, Sally Osberg, president of the Skoll Foundation told a Stanford MBA audience. Like Ginger Rogers dancing in a 1940's musical, they face the same issues as traditional entrepreneurs, but must do it backwards in high heels.
If you didn't know what Fair Trade was five years ago, you certainly do now. As the label becomes ubiquitous, CEO Paul Rice is taking the standard into new industries and to new heights.
If you've swigged Honest Tea, eaten a spoonful of Ben and Jerry's, or sipped on a Starbucks drink, chances are that you've consumed a Fair Trade product.