Pricing Transparency

(pretty pictures to illustrate this may come at some point, but the words will have to do for now!)

So what do we do when we start trading internationally?

As a registered charity, our primary purpose is for the benefit of our beneficiaries: not our customers, or our traders (unless they too are beneficiaries). All the decisions we make are made with that as our focus. All our dressmakers are beneficiaries and come from situations of financial hardship. We provide equipment, resources, training and pastoral care to support our beneficiaries in changing their circumstances.

Let's create an example, and imagine the Shire is a more economically developed country, the taxes or insurance the people pay enable their government to support a more sophisticated care and education system. Most people living in the Shire are well nourished and children are required by law to be in full-time education up to the age of 16. The Shire has a state financed benefits system that supports the vulnerable in their community.

Almaren is a less economically developed country than the Shire, it does not have a sophisticated state supported system. In Almaren people are generally poorer, less well nourished and most children are unable to progress beyond primary school. There is no state financed benefits system to support the vulnerable in their community. In Almaren life is much harder, there is little hope of life improving with the economy and living wages as they are.

Both countries trade in jelly beans. In Almaren a basic living hourly rate is 2 jelly beans in comparison to the 10 jelly beans in the Shire. Although some basic commodities are cheaper in Almaren, like bread and tea, access to services like electricity are challenging and expensive in comparison to the Shire.

When beneficiaries in the Shire make dresses to sell locally they are paid 30 jelly beans for high quality work and the dresses sell for 100 jelly beans in high end fashion boutiques to people with some disposable income and often a compassion to connect with and support the maker of their dress.

When beneficiaries in Almaren make similar quality dresses to sell locally they are paid 6 jelly beans for their work and the dresses sell locally for 20 jelly beans, a price reflective of the economy they live in.

So the question is what price should we sell the dresses made in Almaren, but sold in the Shire?

We could trade these dresses made in Almaren, and sell them in the Shire for 30 jelly beans. Our customers in the Shire would then be the benefactors, making a saving of 70 jelly beans in comparison to the dresses made locally to them. If we did this we would no longer be able to support our makers from situations of hardship in the Shire as they would not be able to compete with these rates of exchange.

Therefore, we have made a conscience decision to sell equivalent quality dresses for 100 jelly beans in the Shire.

We could then decide to vary what we pay the different beneficiaries. Those dressmakers in the Shire could continue to receive 30 jelly beans with those in Almaren receiving just 6 jelly beans. This is general business economics and a model by which many companies expand and grow. We would generate more funds and it would give us more choice in how we distribute our 'profit'. What this would not necessarily do is improve the situations of hardship for those dressmakers in Almaren.

Those in the Shire have been born into and/or live in a place of privilege, this should not be to the disadvantage of those from Almaren. We are inspired by Matthew 20 v1-16 to be generous to the least: to those who have waited in the market place, willing to work but not having initially been selected to do so. When selling dresses in the Shire we ensure the dressmakers in Almaren receive the same wage as those in the Shire: 30 jelly beans, providing training and structures to enable them to use these additional funds wisely.

We are a registered charity and we have made it our mission to support people out of situations of financial hardship. The people we support live in some form of poverty. It is both our constitutional and ethical obligation to ensure our beneficiaries receive the maximum benefit possible. Poverty, is unjust and disadvantages those living in hardship in many hidden and not so hidden ways.

Our dressmakers are our main concern, it's an alien concept in the world of trade, but hey let's not begrudge it, but embrace it!