CED Profile: Ten Thousand Villages

The Canadian CED Network

Year: 2011

This is one of the Canadian CED Network’s CED in Manitoba Profiles Project produced 50 stories of Manitoba communities working to build fairer and stronger local economies, reduce poverty, and revitalize neighbourhoods.

From humble roots to one of North America’s largest fair trade organizations! The story of Ten Thousand Villages is one of an international development organization that originated through relationships that grew out of service and outreach work in the Caribbean, but evolved into market-based support for artisans around the world looking to provide for themselves and their families.

It all began back in 1946 in a small community in Puerto Rico, when a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) worker named Edna Ruth Byler visited a sewing class that MCC was offering to women. The participants and volunteer teachers explained that their greatest challenge was selling their products, given the rampant poverty and the resulting small demand for handicrafts in their communities. They suggested that Edna take some of their embroidery home to the United States to sell to friends and family.