Fair Trade Zone Sewing Cooperative - Nicaragua

In Nicaragua, women formed a sewing co-op, Fair-Trade Zone, to create an economic solution to the poverty in their country. In Nicaragua, a common term for sweatshops is "Free Trade Zone." These sweatshop factories have unsafe working conditions, and do not care for workers who can easily be replaced with other desperate workers. The Center For Development in Central America (CDCA) stepped in to help solve the 80% unemployment rate in Ciudad Sandino. Members of the Fair Trade Zone, with assistance from the Center for Development In Central America (CDCA) and Maggie’s Organics, a store In Michigan, work to address sweatshop Issues.

For two years, the women spent 20 hours a week during the mornings, literally building the home for the sewing co-operative. Because they were not producing any clothing at this time, all of their work was unpaid. In order to support their families, the women worked in the afternoons - many as vendors in the local market. Once the building was complete the women still had to learn to sew!

Fair Trade Zone is a worker owned co-operative. The women work for fair wages and benefits and manage the co-op. The women workers own a piece of the company, and the profits allow them to feed and educate themselves and their children. As a result, they enjoy a better quality of life. The Fair Trade Zone now employs over 90 heads of households, pays a higher minimum wage than Nicaraguan standards, and pays double for overtime. This was made possible by two grants and a more stable inflow of orders.