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The mission of the Your Mark on the World Center is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.

Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Runa, Fair Trade Authenticated

Guest post from Alex Probodziak, founder of Runa.

Runa is a fair trade fashion brand targeted at young professionals in their 20s and 30s with a new take on how fair trade should be presented to the customer. I’m Alex Probodziak, a student at the University of Oxford, who flew out to Colombia this summer to develop a way to advance the brand which our team is creating. I’ll tell you a little bit about our story so far here.

Runa was born out a frustration with the lack of brands which took fair trade a step further for the customer than the ‘fair trade’ label. The positive aspects of fair trade are greater than the somewhat unexciting label ‘fair trade’ suggests; receiving a wage with which one can not only just about survive, but with which one can also save and invest in one’s future, affords one the freedom to actually plan ahead and to progress. My parents arrived as immigrants in the UK, and I was lucky enough to born into the more fortunate circumstances that allow me to be chase my own goals and desires in a way that they couldn’t. Each of us have a story, and certainly, there is a very interesting story behind those who make our clothes, too.

So the thought behind Runa is this: if there is an interesting tale to tell behind the clothes which we buy, especially when the tale is a positive and uplifting one in the case of fair trade, why can’t we create value for the customer by allowing them to see in a more accessible way the impact of their purchases? This can be done beyond just the ‘fair trade’ label, which doesn’t go far enough to paint the worker as much more than an abstract concept in customer’s mind.

With this in mind, we have developed Runa to have three key characteristics:

  • Transparency: You can see exactly how much the main worker in the production process was paid for making the good you have purchased.
  • A personal dimension: You can see a video profile of the worker upon purchase, which updates monthly, in which they tell their story.
  • Impact: With a purchase in a subsequent month of another of the goods which the workers you ‘met’ made, you can see their latest video update, and track how they are getting on.

Jumping from a banking internship in New York early in the summer onto a plane to Bogota with not much more than six designs by a Belgian designer named Sofie Claes and a couple of contacts I’d made remotely while in NYC, was certainly an adventure. Especially since before this, fashion wasn’t something I knew much about at all, other than being aware of the problem with the treatment of the labourers in its supply chains.

The result is that we are now preparing for the launch of our crowdfunding campaign in late October, with a micro-collection of five items, to allow us to develop the rest of our spring/summer 2014 collection. If you’re interested, take a look at our site, and stay tuned there for a blog with what we learnt out in Colombia. You can find out more about us on our concept site, which we’re using to explain the development of the brand at www.humanistic-capital.com. The Runa online shop itself will be live in March 2014, with the rest of our collection.

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