What is Fair Trade? What is Direct Trade? An Overview

The basic premise of fair trade is providing just that: A fair trade between one person and another. At first, it's easy to think "Well isn't everything a fair trade, because someone agreed to the price?" The answer is "Unfortunately, no." Sadly, people are often exploited during the process of creating the clothing and products many of us wear and use. Here's what makes a product fair trade and why it matters.

What Makes a Product Fair Trade?

A product is fair trade if the company that made it meets the following requirements:

  1. Pays fairly according to standard market values in their region.
  2. Ensures safe and healthy working conditions.
  3. Practices transparency in their operations and business practices.
  4. Aim to be environmentally sustainable.
  5. Does not discriminate in hiring.
  6. Does not tolerate abuse of any kind in the workplace.
  7. Does not employ children.

Jesus' Economy works with artisans around the world directly and through cooperatives and organizations to purchase fair trade products that create jobs; we then resell those products on our website and at events. All profit is reinvested.

What is Direct Trade?

Whenever Jesus' Economy purchases directly from the artisan or the primary owner of a business (rather than through a cooperative or another organization) that purchase is "direct trade." This term, first coined in the coffee industry, indicates a close and fair relationship between the buyer and the seller. In this regard, certain Jesus' Economy purchases are both direct and fair trade. (Neither relationship is better than the other; both fair and direct trade relationships are needed.)

Each product on our website includes a label with it, showing if it is fair trade or fair and direct trade. Everything we sell is fair trade but some products are also direct trade. Take a look at the bottom left of these two product pages to see some examples:

Fair Trade Creates Sustainable Jobs

Fair trade creates jobs that empower men and women to lift their entire families out of poverty. That's why we run a fair trade shop and will continue to invest in it.

Shop fair trade today to invest in people lifting themselves out of poverty.


(Note: The ideas in this post are derived from several sources, organizations, and government agencies who have pioneered fair trade before us. We are thankful for their work and efforts.)

John Barry
John Barry


CEO and Founder of Jesus' Economy. John is the General Editor of the highly acclaimed Faithlife Study Bible and Lexham Bible Dictionary. His new book is Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. It is widely endorsed by Christian leaders from around the world.