Peter Mogan and his daughter Katie Mogan-Graham hope the shared experience of motherhood will compel Vancouver moms to support mothers in poor countries.
Their Global Mothers initiative, launching May 12, World Fair Trade Day and just before Mother’s Day, strives to open up a new market to goods handmade for women and children by female artisans in developing countries.
Mogan, a lawyer who’s volunteered with micro-finance and international development organizations for 25 years, says pouring aid into developing countries doesn’t work well. Micro-financing, in which loans of $50 to $200 are given to small rural groups to start cottage businesses, helps fledgling entrepreneurs progress from poverty to subsistence. But Mogan wanted to help artisans raise their standard of living even further.
Crafters in one developing region often make the same things so there’s oversupply and little demand. An expanded market means the women, most of whom care for an average of six children, could not only provide their families with food, healthcare and shelter, but also buy school uniforms and supplies for their kids.
“We saw trade, creating new markets here in our marketplace, as a really good way to make a profound and helpful difference for people who are living in these developing countries,” Mogan said.
Mogan-Graham, a former fashion stylist, noted that hip clothes and toys for children sell well in Canada so she’s collaborated with artisans working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to develop products that would attract North American buyers.
Shoppers can buy brightly hued children’s aprons decorated with friendly giraffes and monkeys or eye-catching earrings for women, but they’ll also learn the aprons were fashioned in Kenya and the earrings incorporate recycled sari thread from Bangladesh. Starting May 12, Global Mothers will sell up to 80 products made from materials local to each community that range from $5.99 for handmade animal cards from Rwanda to $69.99 for a hand-carved wooden mobile, also from Rwanda.
Proceeds will flow back to NGOs. Artisans will receive an average of 57 per cent of the proceeds in a piece rate, the NGOs 43 per cent to support their programs.
One NGO in Nairobi helps more than a thousand women affected by HIV/AIDS with medical, counselling, vocational and educational services. “They’re always going to impact a much broader constituency that’s getting all these services,” he said.
Many of the products are made from organic materials, and Mogan-Graham, managing director of Global Mothers, says the goods have been tested for safety.
Global Mothers will announce its home party model July 12. Mothers who like to host get-togethers and help families overseas can sign up now. They won’t profit financially.
Global Mothers has yet to establish a baby registry, but Mogan hopes Vancouverites will select gifts for their friends while helping others.
Global Mothers is the first initiative of the Transformational Trade Network, a non-profit founded by Mogan in 2010 to promote open and fair trade between artisans in the developing world and consumers in North America.
Global Mothers launches with a sale at Regent College, 5800 University Blvd. at the University of B.C. from noon to 4 p.m., May 12. For more information, see global-mothers.com or its Facebook page.