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Is Trades of Hope a Scam?

Trades of Hope is a company which claims to help empower artisans around the world by connecting them with ‘Compassionate Entrepreneurs’ in the United States to sell their product. It sounds like a win-win, but is it actually all it’s cracked up to be?

Trades of Hope is For-Profit.

The company is very upfront about this. However, they explain it as a honorable choice: “women don’t want charity.” The company avoids talking about profits. But it isn’t just about empowering women out of poverty, Trades of Hope is a for-profit company.

You can check out the company’s impact disclosures to learn more about how many artisans worked with the company. The personal stories are super impactful. Notably, there isn’t any concrete information about how much money actually reaches the artisans. Without concrete facts and figures it’s hard to know who is really being helped.

Condescending Savior Tone

In many places, the marketing is disgusting and unacceptable. Marketing materials play up the white savior angle.

“Over all, women in developing countries do not want charity. They want an opportunity. They want to feel the same pride we feel when they are able to take care of their families. And without an American women selling these products and raising awareness, our artisans would not have a sustainable income.”

If you or someone you know is considering selling Trades of Hope, be sure to read about these cultural phenomena and understand the damage this kind of thinking actually does.

It’s honestly difficult to read. Trades of Hope is anything but respectful to their “partners.” The materials refer to the artisan women from other countries in ways that are unbelievable.

“…in their natural environment.” Nope. Nope. Nope. Who talks like that about human beings?

These are not respectful ways to talk about global partners in business. There’s no way around this, and no excuse for it.

Fair Trade… Federation?

There are a number of Fair Trade organizations that companies can be certified by or be members of. They all have different requirements, values, and goals. Trades of Hope is a member of the Fair Trade Federation. This shouldn’t be confused with other the Fair Trade Certification.

Some of America’s most popular and respected brands are Fair Trade Certified. Companies like, Patagonia, Athleta, and Kashi, have been Fair Trade Certified by Fair Trade USA. Trades of Hope and their products do not have this certification.

Trades of Hope are instead members of the Fair Trade Federation. This organization is not affiliated with Fair Trade USA. Their values, requirements, and accountability are different. For example, Fair Trade Federation uses the same standards for food goods as well as handicrafts while Fair Trade Certification is specific to these different types. Fair Trade Federation is a membership rather than a certification. The requirements to join the Fair Trade Federation do not appear to be nearly as rigorous as those to be Fair Trade Certified.

Multi-Level Marketing

Trades of Hope is a multi-level marketing company part of the Direct Sales Association. The FTC commissioned a while ago that concluded more than 90% of people will lose money participating in MLM companies. That’s something to keep in mind when considering joining a company with a multi-level or network sales business model.

Another thing that’s really striking about Trades of Hope is that you cannot see the compensation plan online without joining. This is a red flag. It’s important to be able to evaluate the plan to be able to estimate costs, expenses, revenues, and determine if the opportunity is right for you.

Director Level Compassionate Entrepreneur Diagram

Based on the compensation plans we found, in order to reach the higher ranks with Trades of Hope you must recruit others to sell the products. This also requires those recruits to purchase starter packs and meet personal volume requirements. Sales commissions are “Compassionate Entrepreneurs” at lower ranks.

It is possible to earn money selling Trades of Hope. However, it is extremely difficult and unlikely to replace career level income. In order to comply with FTC regulations Trades of Hope should share how likely it is that you could earn “full time income” if someone is telling you that you can earn that much.

Recruiting tactics like talking about free vacations and quitting your job are scams. Ask the CE (or someone ‘sharing’ the opportunity with you) for real data to back up their claim.


  1. Brian Nagele Brian Nagele November 16, 2019

    Way to go on this post man. Really interesting stuff. I’ll be back to read your other posts.

  2. Aaron Clay Aaron Clay November 26, 2019

    Their’s hurt in truth.

    • Aubrey Aubrey March 23, 2020

      THERE’S hurt in truth.

  3. Brittany Brittany March 2, 2020

    I could take this article seriously if there weren’t so many grammatical errors. If you are making an educated argument, at least proofread your work. If you are incapable, hire an editor.

  4. Ughhhhhhh Ughhhhhhh February 19, 2021

    This one is driving me insane because of the white savior angle. As someone who is from a country similar to the ones that Trades of Hope claims to help, I have become very good at spotting white saviors who cause harm to the people they claim to help. The founder was also a missionary in Haiti and cofounded a ministry “that serves as an orphanage”. Major bad vibes. Totally unsurprising that this is who Trades of Hope came from. Be very skeptical of white missionaries. It is always better to donate directly to the people who need the aid/assistance. I wish there were more info on Trades of Hope. They are really good at marketing themselves and unfortunately, many people are ignorant about the causes this MLM claims to help.

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