Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why the global trade project?
2. Why Travel to Trade?
3. What is the business model?
4. How will you find special products?
5. What guarantees can you give the customer?
6. Is paying on-line with your website safe?
7. Why are you communicating in English when Dutch is your First language?
8. Why did you choose to be commercial and not an NGO?
Why the GlobalTradeProject?
The project started with the idea to create a business that encompasses my most important passions, ambitions and beliefs/ideals.
- My biggest passion is travelling, experiencing adventures and meeting people. Next to this I think it’s important to always be part of a creative process from which I can learn and grow.
- My biggest ambition is to help others, whether in a direct way (financially/knowledge) or indirect way (entertainment/inspiration) while doing the activities to get an income and survive.
- My most important conviction is that talent has to be discovered. This is true for ones own talents, but also for the talent that resides around the world. Since the world is not equal and wealth and opportunities are not distributed equally the focus for helping others should be on finding talented people with less chances and opportunities and give them the tools to grow.
The idea for the GlobalTradeProject has sprung out of these considerations. The name is a somewhat ambitious term for the small scale I’m starting on, but that’s what it is: a project, an experiment to research the possibility of direct trade between an artist in a developing country and a customer in the First world. The ambition for the future is that backpackers around the world will do the same: search and activate talent to give people with less knowledge and opportunities a global platform.
Why Travel to Trade?
Making a worldtrip nowadays is by no means anything special. Wherever you go, people you know will have been there before you. What makes it special and unique is the experiences, people and adventures you encounter. Travelling with a mission greatly contributes to this unique experience and contributing to the development of Third world countries is not only good for those countries, it is also good for your own feeling and reason d’etre.
I greatly believe that development should come from within the countries themselves. Contributing should therefore be done by focussing on education, fair trade and activation of people. In 2008 I travelled to South East Asia to focus on the first of these: education. With the organisation Travel to Teach, I taught English in Indonesia and Thailand. Now I want to focus on my other convictions: Fair trade and activation of talent. Hence TravelToTrade.com.
TravelToTrade.com is the part of the project where the products can be seen and purchased.
What is the business model?
It’s simple: find products/handicrafts that are special and made by a talented artist. Considder the possibility that others will like it as well. Research costs to get it from A (the producer) to B (the customer) and considder if (some) people wil think it worth it. Make the video, interview the artist and get it to the attention of people that follow the project by putting it on-line.
People that want to buy the product order with me and pay in advance via paypal/IDeal. I will then buy the product directly in cash from the artist and send it to the given address. Because I will travel around the world and not stay in places very long, the products can only be purchased within a given time (on average 4 days). I will research possibilities of more sustainable trade options along the way, but in first instance I have to be the bottleneck through which trade takes place, to make sure that purchasing is safe and to take care of any unexpected problems. In first instance I don’t expect to find artists with a shop, Internet availability/knowledge, a bank account and legal basis to guaranty safe and honest trading.
The price of the product will of course be as low as possible. The margin added by me should take care of the riskfactor only (when a product did not arrive or arrives broken, the customer will get the money back). This means that I will hardly make a profit on each order. Rather, I believe that if the concept works, I can make money by advertisements, sponsoring and leads (e.g. when a product is very popular an investor can contact me for the details of the artists and do business with that artist directly, importing the product on a larger scale).
How will you find special products?
The plan is to just go and search while travelling. In every country there are talented artists with special products. In Third World countries those people mainly focus on tourists anyway, so it should not be too hard to find products. However, I would appreciate any advise people can give me on products they liked when travelling through area’s where I’m going (see my route). This will greatly decrease my searching and focus my energy instead on a product/artist that already got positive attention before. In other words: your input is needed!
I will also use input from the couchsurfing community and contact Dutch embassies in every country I’ll visit. Locals, or people that have stayed in an area for some time, most likely have a better knowledge of talent then people that travel.
What guarantees can you give the customer?
The guarantee I give is a total refund if the product does not arrive or if the product is broken. Since the customer has to base his/her decision on my description, a photo and a video and given the fact that the product mostly will be hand-made, it is possible that the product does not live up to given expectations. This is unfortunate and a risk that is always involved when purchasing on-line. To compensate for this risk I allow people to spend a 20% fee extra to have the option to have a total refund when you are not satisfied, even if the product arrived in one piece. In that case the product can be send to ….. <address> with the sending costs for me. The total cost of the product will then be returned on your account minus the 20% insurance fee.
Of course I rely on feedback to know if the project is a success or not. Therefore I will monitor each shipment closely and ask for your extended feedback on quality and service.
In any case: bare in mind that the GlobalTradeProject is an experiment in first instance and that things might go wrong due to events beyond my control. This is entirely my own risk and the customer will never become the financial victim of such an event. However, emotional damage (e.g. you ordered a product to give to a loved one for Christmas, but it doesn’t arrive on time) I can not compensate (in this case the loved one will have to do with a voucher). Shipping time might vary and the customer is advised to take this into consideration when buying a product.
As a general rule the ordered product should arrive within 3 weeks. Shipments are monitored and will be backtraceble if things go wrong. Just bare in mind that ordering one of the special products with the GlobalTradeProject is not only an investment in that particular product, but also contributes to fair trade and it directly effects the life of an artist in a positive way.
Is paying on-line with your website safe?
Yes, payment is done via IDEAL or Paypal. Both services are well known and used extensively throughout the Internet. See the disclaimer for more information.
Why are you communicating in English when Dutch is your First language?
The project is an experiment to research the possibilities of fair trade through travellers. Since I have no experience at all with trading and making video’s, the whole project will be a learning process. On my blog viewers can follow my experiences and ups and downs in the world of global trading. The thought behind it is that if I can do it, everybody can. This includes travellers/backpackers/tourists from all over the world. Because I greatly believe in the concept that ‘talent has to be discovered’ and that the more people are searching for it, the better, I have chosen to implement it in English.
Why did you choose to be commercial and not an NGO?
With this project I wish to research the possibilities of fair trade without any subsidies from the government. Fair trade projects in The Netherlands that are run through non-governmental organisations are currently still highly dependent on financial aid from the government. The reason for this is that these are big organisations with a lot of overhead costs. Not only the fair trade shops have to be paid, also salaries for the professionals involved, advertising campaigns and return tickets to the workshops on the other side of the world. This is not to say that these NGO’s do a bad job, on the contrary. I do believe, however, that fair trade in this multimedia-age can be accomplished with less costs and in more direct ways. My own project can be seen as an experimental research for alternatives.