I’ve often wondered if a better way to solve the problems of poverty in so many countries around the world is to turn more of them into entrepreneurs rather than giving them direct aid. Are they better off being given a fish each day or being taught how to fish?
One of the problems in many of these countries is that there is not a big enough market for many of the products that could be produced. I’ve often thought that we could bring the benefits of burgeoning world trade to more if we could help to develop more markets in the USA and other developed countries. We tried it at Agracel with some products from a women’s group in Bolivia over our eBay auction site, but without success.
We made a stop at a shop in Taupo, New Zealand called Trade Aid. They were selling various products, all from less developed countries. You could buy Hmong embroidery from Vietnam, small wooden chests inlaid with silver from India, sequined notebooks from Nepal and many other products from dozens of countries.
I learned that Trade Aid is a New Zealand organization that started 15 years ago, having grown to 35 stores scattered throughout the country. Sales last year were NZ$8.5 million (US$6 million). That is quite an impact for many villages in this world.