A first "fair trade" store will be opened in Israel on June 12 and showcase hand-made products manufactured by women from across the country, many of whom are dealing with financial difficulties.
The store, which will be located on 4 Shlomo Hamelekh Street in Tel Aviv, will offer goods made by 100 craftswomen representing most sectors and national minorities in Israel, at affordable prices.
The products will include traditional Ethiopian, Palestinian and Bedouin embroidery, pottery, lampshades, jewelry, soaps, olive oil, jams, and various domestic knick-knacks.
"I've been to fair trade shops in Europe and our products are no less beautiful, sometimes even more," said Shula Keshet, the store's founder and head of the Ahoti organization for the empowerment of women in Israel.
"We have a wider selection than similar shops abroad, and it includes amazing things. There is no such thing on the local level. In Europe, the whole field of fair trade is highly developed, there are thousands of fair trade stores in Europe and not even one in Israel," she explained.
Fair trade is a social movement that was established in order to assist manufacturers in developing countries to transport their products to developed countries while keeping them involved in all aspects of the production, maintaining decent working conditions and protecting the environment.
The movement's objective is to lead third world societies towards economic independence and stability, and to strive for as much equality and reciprocity as possible in the global economy.
In Israel a coalition of aid and social empowerment organizations decided to give the term "fair trade' a more local interpretation.
"The definition we reached is different than in Europe," explained Kehset. "The focal point of fair trade in Israel is the local community. There are women here who do amazing things and don't get recognized. We want to make these products more accessible and visible, and allow socially-conscious consumers to buy top notch products."
The store will be operated by women volunteers and the prices of the products will range from NIS 20-NIS 600. While currently supported by various funds, Keshet hopes that in the future the store will become profitable.