ABOUT THE COMPANY (12)
- What is FairMail?
- What is FairMail mission?
- Fight against child labor in Peru by empowering underprivileged teenagers through photography.
- Provide for the education of the FairMail photographers and support them in their personal and professional growth to instill within them a sense of self-confidence and self-awareness so that they can grow into the adult they want and chose to be.
- Raise awareness of the role of social enterprises and of the impact that they have in the communities where they operate.
- Promote fair trade and be a compliant member of the WFTO by living up to its ten principles.
- What is FairMail vision?
- How was FairMail founded?
- What is FairMail’s organizational structure?
- Who are the people behind FairMail?
- Where can I buy FairMail products?
- In Germany, our cards are produced by Goldbek and they are sold in the Weltladen stores across the country
- In The Netherlands, our cards are produced by POD service Greetz and sold online on https://www.greetz.nl/zoeken?q=fairmail
- In the UK, our cards are produced by the non-profit organization Love from the Artist and sold online on https://lovefromtheartist.com/Fairmail (sales available for both end costumers and retailers)
- On FairMail online store: https://fairmail.info/products/index/sort:id/direction:desc
- You can also order your custom cards for party invitations, Christmas greetings, wedding invitations etc. by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Why is FairMail a company and not a charity organization?
- What awards has FairMail received over the years?
- BID Networks “Business in Development Challenge” (2006)
- The Dutch Card Award for “most innovative card concept” (2008)
- NCDO’s “Entrepreneurs without borders” (2011)
- ASN Ethical Bank’s “World Prize against child labor” (2011)
- Ben & Jerry’s “Join Our Core” social enterprise competition (2012)
- The European Commission’s European CSR Award for SME’s (2013)
- Most sustainably minded young people Award (2014)
- PwC's Transparency Prize (2015)
- What’s FairMail’s innovation?
- FairMail is the first and only company in the world that produces fair trade photo cards (as far as we know, at least!).
- We consider beauty a free resource that, with the right skills, can be captured in photos and turned into an economic resource and a tool for empowerment. By teaching the FairMail teenagers the art of photography, we give them the possibility to make the most of the beauty of their country and we make sure that the income generated by this beauty stays in the country that provides it.
- We have a business approach to sustainability as FairMail receives no funds and donations from third parties. We believe in “trade not aid” and we offer the FairMail photographers a “life changing experience” vs a “day changing experience” as we support our teenagers over years.
- We convey a positive, optimistic and confident image of the FairMail teenagers, and we refuse to picture them as “poor teenagers from a Southern country who need help”. We don’t want you to feel sorry for them, we want you to value their talents and the quality of the products that FairMail produces.
- What problems is FairMail trying to solve?
- According to a 2015 study carried out by the ILO and the INEI (Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática), with over 1,6 million children, ages 5 to 17, engaged in child labor, Peru is the country with the highest child labor rate in Latin America. Although FairMail is only a small social enterprise, we are working to reverse the trend by prioritizing education over labor.
- We realize that in the photography industry, most of the pictures that you’ll find on cards, postcards, calendars, posters etc. are taken by professional photographers that typically come from rich Northern countries and the communities living in the countries that provide the beauty, do not benefit at all from the income generated by the sales of those photo-products. FairMail defies this approach because it trains Peruvian photographers who take pictures of Peruvian beauty and invest their money in Peru
- What is FairMail Peru social impact?
- Total number of teenagers: 42
- Total earnings by teenagers since the foundation of FairMail: 132,802€
- Total cards sold by FairMail Peru: 3,238,586
- How many started university or “academias”? 8: Maria Flor, Yuli, Anidela, Gabriel, Angeles, Bryan, Diana, Julissa
- How many finished university? 3: Maria Flor, Yuli and Anidela
FairMail is a social enterprise that sells fair trade greeting cards made with pictures taken by underprivileged teenage photographers from Peru. FairMail provides free photography classes to the photographers and sells their images through different channels. The photographers receive 60% of the profit from the sales of their pictures and they invest it in 3 funds: education, clothing, and house supply. FairMail also provides a health care plan to the photographers and their direct family members as well as counseling and personal guidance to support their personal and professional growth.
We dream of a world where every child has access to quality education, a world where every child is given the opportunity to achieve their full potential and break out of poverty. We dream of a world where the place you are born, your wealth and social status do not hinder access to fundamental human rights, a world where children’s voices are heard and acted upon.
FairMail was founded in 2006 by Dutch social entrepreneurs Janneke Smeulders and Peter den Hond. At that time, they were running a vegetarian restaurant in Huancacho, and in their spare time, they used to volunteer in El Milagro, a very poor neighborhood of Trujillo that is home to the city landfill. Here, a community of hundreds of people, children included, survive by separating garbage and selling it to recycling companies for few cents a bag. Volunteering in the city landfill was an eye-opener for Peter and Janneke, they realized how severe the problem of child labor in Peru was and they decided to do something about it.
Inspiration came from very common practice among volunteers. Janneke realized that fellow volunteers would bring their cameras to the landfill and take pictures of the children, but they would never allow them to handle the cameras, afraid that they might break them. It is at this point that she had the idea of reversing the perspective giving the children that were working on the landfill the possibility to use the cameras. This how the first photography classes started. At first, it was just a hobby, but it soon turned into a life changing opportunity for the first 5 photographers involved. Janneke started producing postcards with the pictures taken by the young photographers and she would sell them in her restaurant. The income generated from the sale of the postcards was invested in the photographers’ education as a way to lift them out of poverty. This is how FairMail Peru was born.
Winning the Business in Development Challenge in 2006 marked a turning point for FairMail as they started selling postcards in Dutch fair trade shops.
Determined to expand the concept of FairMail to other countries, Peter and Janneke travelled to India in March 2009 to set up FairMail India. The Indian production center remained operative for 5 years and then, due to unfortunate circumstances, had to be closed. FairMail Peru is currently the only operating FairMail production center.
After spending 12 years in FairMail and investing all their energy and creativity, in 2017, FairMail founders Peter and Janneke decided to take a step back from the project and in January 2018 former volunteers Kira Beck (Germany), Federica Micozzi (Italy) and Natalia Stehle (Germany) took over. In 2019, due to personal reasons, Natalia had to leave FairMail which is now run by Kira and Federica.
14 years, 53 photographers and over 3 million cards sold later, FairMail is still fulfilling its mission to fight against child labor in Peru by providing for the education of the FairMail photographers.
Behind the FairMail Cards trademark, there are 2 independent legal entities, FairMail GmbH (based in Germany) and FairMail Peru (based in Peru).
FairMail Peru is the production center where all the pictures are taken. The company oversees the production of the pictures, pays the photographers and the local managers, and provides personal and professional guidance to the photographers. FairMail Cards GmbH is the marketing and trading company of the FairMail Group in charge of the sales of all FairMail products. FairMail GmbH generates royalties that are transferred to FairMail Peru and subsequently distributed to the photographers. This company has two shareholders: Kira Beck and Federica Micozzi.
FairMail is run by Kira Beck (Germany), Federica Micozzi (Italy) who met in Huanchaco in September 2015.
Kira works as a project manager responsible for Web-Marketing and IT-Development in a mid-size company close to Stuttgart, Germany. Thanks to her family's love for travel and adventure, she has developed a global mindset and she is convinced that a better and sustainable future can be achieved by sharing knowledge, creativity, and capacity building.
Federica is a freelance English teacher and translator based in Turin, Italy. She is a word nerd at heart. She believes the world can be made a better place by creating and fostering dialogue among people of all faiths and backgrounds. She acknowledges that traveling is fatal to prejudice, this is why she never stops exploring.
The production center in Peru is managed by former FairMail photographers Anidela Rios Pizan and Maria de los Angeles Acevedo Bobadilla. After several years in FairMail as photographers, in 2018 they were promoted to Operational Managers and they are now fully responsible for the daily management of FairMail Peru.
Anidela is about to graduate in Business Administration and Angeles is currently studying Marketing and Communication. Chiara, an art teacher from Milan and former FairMail volunteer, is our photo editor. With her great photography skills and a keen eye for details, she supervises the photo production and makes sure that our cards have all it takes to compete in the card industry.
FairMail sells its product through different channels.
When it comes to global dynamics between Northern and Southern countries, we believe in “Trade not Aid”, therefore it was only natural to apply this same principle to FairMail. Our experience has proved that this approach presents several benefits.
We avoid creating a culture of dependency. The fact that the FairMail photographers are born in critical socio-economic backgrounds does not mean that they need to depend on aid to improve their chances in life. In fact, we believe that making them dependent on aid negatively influences their development as they are not encouraged to roll up their sleeves and be the masters of their own destinies. By providing them with the necessary training and tools, they acquire new skills, create beautiful products, and increase their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.
We develop an entrepreneurial mindset. FairMail receives no subsidies, grants, or funds and sustains its operations with the income generated from the sales of its products. By involving the photographers in the running of the business and making their earnings proportional to the company’s earnings (the more FairMail earns, the more they earn) they are motivated to work to the best of their abilities and keep the company costs low.
ABOUT THE CARDS (4)
- How does a picture become a card?
- What are the characteristics of FairMail cards?
- What is the difference between a FairMail cards and ordinary cards?
- What is the difference between a FairMail card and a charity card?
- "Life changing" impact vs. "Day changing" impact. Thanks to their newly acquired photography skills, the FairMail photographers earn money over a period of 5 to 10 years. This approach makes it possible for them to set long term goals and change their lives for good.
- Trade vs. Aid: FairMail is a self-sufficient social enterprise and doesn’t rely on donations. Consequently, the money that teenagers receive is earned and not donated. This approach boosts their confidence and self-esteem and it helps them become mature independent adults that can reach their life goals without depending on external aid.
- Positive vs. Pitiful: FairMail believes in the power of the teenagers to shape their lives. It is true that they were born in critical socio-economic conditions, but this is not a good reason to pity them. They are young, healthy, and intelligent teenagers and thanks to the skills that they acquire in FairMail, they have the chance to change the course of their own destiny. For this reason, we don’t want to perpetuate the stereotype of the “poor kid from a poor country” but we want to empower them and give them the tools they need to become the adult they want to be.
- Direct vs. Indirect support: On the back of every FairMail card, you can see the photographer that you are supporting by buying that specific card. You don’t support a charity organization but directly an individual. You can even contact him or her directly via the email address printed on the back of the card. On the individual pages of the photographers you can also see exactly how much they have earned so far.
The FairMail photographers have 2 photo sessions a week. At the end of the month, all the pictures that have been taken by the photographers are shared with Chiara, our photo editor, who selects around 10% of the photos to be published on our online photo gallery. These photos are also shown to our publishers in Europe who select the pictures that will be used to create the final cards.
Our sales channels are the following:
o FairMail webshop
o Goldbek (Germany)
o Greetz (The Netherlands)
o Love From The Artist (UK and rest of Europe)
Originality: FairMail cards are produced with pictures taken by young Peruvian teenagers that come from very critical backgrounds, not by professional photographers from Northern countries.
Quality: Fair trade should never be an excuse for poor quality products. This is why we operate a strict selection of the pictures and only the very best ones will eventually make it into a card. Our aim is to produce cards that can compete, in terms of quality, with regular greeting cards.
Fair trade and social impact: As a member of the WFTO organization, FairMail complies with its ten principles which include (among others): paying producers a fair wage, providing a safe and healthy working environment, ensuring no child labor and forced labor and providing capacity building.
Ordinary cards featuring exotic, ethnic images are typically produced with pictures taken by professional photographers from Northern countries and sold by companies based in rich, developed countries. No profit goes to the country and the communities where the picture was taken. We believe that it is only fair that the country that provides the beauty that is pictured on the card receives a fair share of the profit made from the sale of that card. This is why we share with our Peruvian photographers 60% of the profit and this money is entirely invested in Peru
Charity organizations normally fund their good work through donations and fundraising, we at FairMail chose to carry out our mission by implementing a business approach which implies:
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHERS (8)
- Who are the FairMail photographers and how are they selected?
- How does the selection process work?
- How do the photographers benefit from FairMail?
- How do the teenagers use the proceeds from the sales of the cards?
- When do the teenagers get paid?
- How do you make sure that the teenagers spend their money wisely?
- Do the FairMail teenagers go to school?
- What happens when a photographer leaves FairMail?
The FairMail photographers are teenagers, ages 13 to 19, that live in the suburban areas of Trujillo, the third biggest city in Peru, and come from critical socio-economic backgrounds.
We work in close collaboration with local NGOs (Mundo de Ninos, ACJ, La Rampa) that operate in Trujillo and Huanchaco and through them, we recruit our photographers. More specifically, when there is a vacant position in FairMail, we ask them to identify a number of teenagers that fit the profile of a viable candidate, which is to say a motivated, willing to learn, enthusiastic girl or boy who also comes from a low-income family and therefore could benefit from FairMail’s support.
We recruit our photographers through local NGOs that operate in the area of Trujillo and Huanchaco. To be approved as an official FairMail photographer, all teenagers go through a 2-month training during which they receive basic photography classes and familiarize themselves with the way FairMail works (schedule, values, goals) and fellow photographers. At the end of the training, they take an exam that includes both photography theory and practice. If they succeed in the exam and they are deemed fit (in terms of behavior) to join FairMail, they sign their contract and become, by all means, official FairMail photographers.
In FairMail, the teenagers have the opportunity to gain a true work experience and just as in any other working environment they are expected to comply with the company rules. Specifically, we require our photographers to be punctual, motivated, to respect FairMail staff and fellow photographers, to take good care of the photography equipment and of our premises. If they fail to comply with these rules, we first talk to them and if we see that nothing really changes, we give them a final warning that may result in termination of the contract. Following a code of conduct prepares them for future work experiences and makes them more confident in their future job search.
As stated on the back of every FairMail cards, 60% of the profit generated from the sale of that specific card goes to the author of the picture. This money is deposited on a quarterly basis on the personal fund of the photographer and it is divided into 3 funds: 80% goes to the education fund, 10% goes to clothing and 10% goes to house supplies.
Additionally, FairMail also provides a health plan for the photographers and direct family members. On a monthly basis, FairMail deposits 50 soles (approximately 13 euro) into the photographers’ health funds, this amount of money is fixed and is not related to the number of cards the photographers sell.
In a country where nurturing artistic talents is not a priority, FairMail provides a safe environment where the teenagers can freely express themselves through photography. The whole process that leads to the production of the final picture involves a lot of different skills as the photographers are required to make a lot of choices and work independently. Having cards produced with their pictures is an incredible boost for their self-esteem and self-confidence. It is the tangible proof that they achieved something great and that all the hard work and creativity that they put into the realization of the picture is appreciated by customers all over the world.
FairMail also supports the teenagers in their personal growth by providing counseling and guidance on different areas. We periodically organize workshops with local psychologists, we offer them English classes, sexual education classes, financial consulting, we help them identify their mid and long-term goals and we facilitate communication with parents and tutors. Additionally, the presence of volunteers from all over the world creates an inspiring international environment and provides a unique contribution to the program on a technical, cultural, and human level.
FairMail has a detailed list of things/services that the teenagers are allowed to buy with their earnings. 80% of the money that the photographers earn goes into their education fund and it can be used to pay tuition fees, extra-school classes, and job training. It can also be used to buy books and educational material (glasses, backpacks, notebooks, etc.).
The money that goes into the house fund can be spent on house improvement works (lay the floor, fix the roof, etc.) and on house supplies.
Finally, the money that goes into their clothing fund can be spent to buy clothes.
The teenagers are paid on a quarterly base. At the end of every quarter, they receive a financial overview that states how much money they have earned over the past 3 months. The money is then distributed into their 3 funds (education, house, clothing) and summed up to their savings.
When the photographers need money for a purchase, they ask for the money to our local managers. We release the money they need and to prove that they used the money to buy something that is compliant with FairMail’s mission, they have to hand in a receipt or an invoice as proof.
Yes, they do. Going to school is requirement number 1 for being admitted in FairMail as our mission is to fight against child labor and support the teenagers’ education. Since the teenagers are between 13 and 19, we have teenagers in high school, vocational schools and university. FairMail classes take place twice a week and they do not interfere in any way with their school schedule.
FairMail photographers “retire” when they turn 19. As it always happens though, their cards will be for sale for several years after they retire. FairMail simply keeps transferring the money that the photographers earn to their funds and they are always free to withdraw the money whenever they need it.
The same mechanism applies to the photographers that leave FairMail before turning 19.
ABOUT FAIR TRADE (2)
- What makes FairMail a fair trade social enterprise?
- Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
- Transparency and Accountability
- Fair Trading Practices
- Payment of a Fair Price
- Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor
- Commitment to Non-Discrimination, Gender Equity and Freedom of Association
- Ensuring Good Working Conditions
- Providing Capacity Building
- Promoting Fair Trade
- Respect for the Environment
- How can you prove that FairMail complies with the 10 Fair Trade principles?
By definition, “fair trade” is an arrangement designed to help producers in developing countries achieve sustainable and equitable trade relationships. There are several organizations in the world that promote fair trade practices, FairMail has been a member of the World Fair Trade Organization since the very beginnings.
As a member of the WFTO, FairMail complies with the 10 Fair Trade Principles:
As a member of the WFTO, every 2 years FairMail is obliged to submit a self-assessment report (SAR) which serves as a framework for the for the Monitoring Audit and Peer Visit. The Peer Visit is a best practice procedure involving a peer organization in the monitoring mechanism. The peer visitor helps a member achieve and improve the compliance with the and highlights good practices and raise issues of concern. The Monitoring Audit is a formal and extensive process, which requires preparation and securing good and complete documentation of the ins and outs of the organization. It is essential that everything mentioned or explained in the SAR has back up documents or proof to present to the auditor. If both procedures are successful, the WFTO membership is confirmed.