Photo Credit: Serrv
Serrv is a pioneer and a leader in the fair trade industry. The nonprofit first began in 1949 as a way to help European refugees after WWII. From there the organization has grown and flourished and today works with 55 artisan/farmer organizations and cooperatives in more than 25 countries across the world.
Photo Credit: Serrv
Serrv really focuses on building and maintaining long-term partnerships to try and break the cycle of poverty. Some of the partnerships first started more than 35 years ago!
Stories of Positive Change
Every product Serrv sells has a story of positive change. Thanks to safe working conditions, artisan and farmer partners are now empowered to save for the future and send their children to school.
Love Justly spoke with Sara Swartzendruber from Serrv to learn more about Serrv's mission, the importance of partnership, and the ripple effect of social change.
Serrv not only has a heart for people, but for the planet as well. What does Serrv do to help protect the earth?
One of our core organizational values is “sustainable development.” A big part of this is our dedication to caring for the environment. We work with our partners to ensure that our products are made responsibly, with sustainable materials and production techniques. Many of our partners are active in environmental projects within their communities, including sustainable harvesting of materials, waste water treatment, reforestation initiatives, environmental education programs, and others. We also import the vast majority of our products by sea, which takes longer but has much less of an impact than air freight. You can learn more about our environmental commitment at http://www.serrv.org/category/sustainability.
Photo Credit: Serrv; Photo By: Joseph De Leo
Partnerships are so important to you. What makes your partnerships so special?
To me, our deep and long-lasting partnerships are what fair trade means to Serrv. We are completely dedicated to our partners around the world – as a nonprofit organization, all of our work is intended to improve lives and create positive change. We work in close collaboration with our partners to find solutions to challenges they may have and to strengthen their businesses in creative ways. This includes assistance in designing for international markets, trainings to improve artisans’ skills, educational programs, financial resources, and more. Our partnerships are long-term – some have lasted for over 35 years!
When you think about the work Serrv does, what makes you most proud?
There are so many stories of concrete social change from the work that we do! I love to hear about the women in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal who are able to make their own sustainable income from knitting, sewing or weaving baskets – with this, they are not only able to improve their family’s daily lives but can save and send their children to school. They gain self-confidence and develop stronger voices, which in turn strengthen their families and their communities. The ripple effect of this positive change is what I’m most proud of – it is a sustainable way to change the world and all traces back to Serrv connections.
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Affordable ethical fashion is hard to navigate. On the one hand, ethical fashion is going to cost more because each person behind the product is paid a fair wage. As a result, the item costs more to make, so the cost to consumers is going to be higher. This is the way fashion should be...but we're used to cheap fashion. This is where Love Justly comes in.