Artisan Compensation

For the most part, the prices paid by Global Crafts to Artcamp were from 2010.
Since then, the price of tortilla dough (masa) went from 10 pesos a kilo to 18 pesos a kilo. But Artcamp got paid basically the same prices, as back then.
From time to time, Renice would make a gratuitous reference
to Tom Costello as a “direct competitor” and she mentioned “Indian Jewelry”
as a competition  to Artcamp. These references were taken by the Artcamp craftswomen
to signify that any price rise would be unwelcome. On an occasion where a twenty-five-cent raise in price was requested for a certain bracelet, a stern letter came back saying: “all right, then: we will raise the price of this piece and pass the increase on to our customer. This may affect your sales in the future. Or it may not.” Well, getting a message like that is very discouraging to even *think about* asking for any raise. These kind of messages advising to ‘not even think of asking for a price raise’ are found throughout the GMAIL record, and we invite you to read these records carefully; and if you think we erred somewhere, PLEASE tell me what it is that we have done wrong!

The message in Kevin’s mail is very clear: Global Crafts will take it’s full share of profit,
and is unwilling to support their supplier, Artcamp by absorbing the price/cost difference.

In multiple mails Renice reminds that the Mexican peso devalued, that Artcamp has gotten many more pesos for Global Craft’s payment. This shows her sensitivity to the price issue. It seems as if it’s her way of telling Artcamp that she thinks they got a bonus or something.

Renice  seems to believe  that the peso stayed up much higher, and for longer, than it did.

Yes, the peso exchange rate for the usa dollar reached 20 to the dollar, but, only for 6-8 months, a year at most; then the peso went back down to around 17 pesos to the dollar.

Another thing: When the peso devalues poor people do NOT profit from this. The price of everything immediately goes up the same day the devaluation is announced. So, it’s NOT the case, as Renice suggested, that we got a raise, in the form of a currency devaluation.

On one single day, January 5, 2017, the prices of everything in Mexico went up 25%
but we did not get any price raise from Global Crafts in 7 years; this led to the situation
in which we found ourselves, where we could not replace the materials in our jewelry
and, at the same time, provide the barest of minimum-incomes to our artisan families.

Another problem is that GC do not present account-balances; since I introduced myself as the new President and legal representative of Artcamp, I have never seen their accounting.
Yes, I see a piece of it that is supposed to be current. But, I have never seen it’s beginning.

G.C. knows what prices they pay; they send the money they send; this was the situation
I found myself in when I became Artcamp’s President in 2016, Renice never asked if the prices were satisfactory, and I was in no position to understand the scale of future orders.

GC sends the payments directly to the craftspeople. I never took a salary. I was to be paid from the government credit that I was going to help the cooperative obtain, but their sales collapsed, and so the solicitation I had prepared for FONAIS auditors also became invalid,
because the income of the cooperative had failed and Renice would not support the group by generating orders or making a recommendation of Artcamp to Fair Traders overseas.
At the time, she seemed to me to be walking away from Artcamp and out the door;
we didn’t think that a Fair Trade company would do this, or be allowed to abandon us.

All we ask for is a fair ending-settlement, at least a review to see if we are owed a balance.

And won’t you good folks help us with a transition to a solvent future for our cooperative?

When we were Fair Trade Federation members and selling directly
to the USA market, our cooperative’s gross income was 135,000usd$/year

(approximately one-half of which, goes to pay the cost of materials)

By 2018, we were driven-down to less than 50,000usd$/year,
and can NOT support all the families who had been working
who labored and dreamed-of a better future for their children.

The CRMC shop in Tecalpulco needs to be outfitted with new modern
technology which promises wonderful possibilities for the local artisans.

Global Crafts sold more than a million dollars worth of Artcamp jewelry over seven years!

But something happened…

If only Global Crafts had told us of their plans to cut-back when asked December 2016…

But no. In the course of the year 2017 production, the super-discounted prices on Global Craft’s purchase orders had been outdated for a long time. Now GC drove the profitability
of the Cooperative of Artcamp, their faithful supplier, to below-zero. The casting ingots
presented to the cooperative members at the year-end assembly were NOT in existence, because these had been used-up making Global Crafts jewelry over the past 12 months.

The Artcamp cooperative has never made a profit, nor does the cooperative intend to
make a profit; the function of this cooperative is to obtain employment for the artisans.

We count upon our distributor to help and to guide us, to show us the way to make
them successful so that we will be able to retain our jobs and our household incomes.

If Global Crafts were going to break the agreement to purchase a minimum amount each month, then some consideration ought to have been given to the effect on our cooperative.

However, Global Crafts acted as if we were a big business like them, with lines of credit
and a way to live, without us having the smallest guarantee that we will get another order.

We held the prices very low in consideration of the stability of having a steady employment
for the poor families who are cooperative members and depend on the orders we get them.

‘Emi’ Estrada

In 2016, I was made president and legal representative of Artcamp for the purpose of obtaining federal government production credit. I have never got even one-cent of salary or any other consideration for my services to Global Crafts, Artcamp’s main customer. Payments coming from Global Crafts went to the village artisans. I never saw a penny.

Even though I made Artcamp a 60-page business plan with financial projections, my time and efforts were wasted, because the cooperative began having severe social problems
since when the monthly order was slashed. That was one very sad January of year 2017.

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