Want to learn about trade laws for small businesses in Tanzania? Or buy lovely handcrafted mugs for your church volunteers? Check out the Visible Commerce Forum at www.viatru.com. The forum is a collaborative online resource supporting grassroots entrepreneurs in developing countries. For artisans who meet the criteria of sustainable business practices, VCF provides training, product design assistance, information on local trade laws, and access to the Internet marketplace.
For purchasers wanting to buy low on the commercial food chain, VCF offers "retail documentaries" of the people, places, and impact on the local economies where products originate.
"We believe that trade is evolving, or perhaps returning to, a more meaningful personal connection," said Michelle Long, co-founder of Viatru, the socially responsible digital media company that launched VCF. "The retailers we work with are interested in giving their customers a transparent view into where and how their products are made." The Visible Commerce Forum includes partnerships with the Body Shop, Oxfam Fair Trade, and SERRV, which markets crafts through 3,000 churches. www.viatru.com; (206) 374-3800.