Fair trade gains ground at World Cup Café in Waco

Workers at World Cup Cafe sponsored by Mission Waco/Mission World.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email

WACO—World Cup Café wrapped up 2013 in a unique position. For the first time since its 2006 opening, it didn’t lose money.

Jimmy Dorrell, founder of Mission Waco/Mission World, attributed that new profitability in large part to the increasing popularity of the café’s fair-trade market.

worldcup nativity400Nativity figure from Cameroon, available at the World Cup Cafe.Fair trade emphasizes justice and equality in international commerce. Fair-trade producers are socially and economically marginalized farmers and artisans from developing countries. They often face challenges finding markets and customers because of their vulnerable status.

Fair-trade products include clothing, food, coffee, home décor and jewelry. Mission Waco/Mission World is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, an association that supports North American organizations committed to fair-trade practices. Federation guidelines ensure a producer/seller relationship marked by honesty and integrity.

When people buy fair-trade items at Mission Waco/Mission World’s World Cup Café, they help improve the quality of life for some of the planet’s poorest people. Sales benefit the artisans and farmers. And profit from the store ensures the fair-trade partnership can continue.

worldcup purses300Purses from Swaziland and Kenya at World Cup Cafe.Fair Trade Federation members must pay their producers promptly. Artisans receive access to interest-free advanced payment for their items.

Jimmy and Janet Dorrell bought a house in a blighted North Waco neighborhood in 1978. They wanted to live among the poor and build relationships with them. In 1991, they founded the organization known today as Mission Waco/Mission World. Two years later, they purchased an old bar and an abandoned shopping center at the corner of North 15th Street and Colcord Avenue, where the café and fair trade market are located today.

Until the 1940s, that corner thrived with beauty salons, grocery stores and the Texas Theatre. But as businesses fled to West Waco, North Waco gave way to street drugs and prostitution, Dorrell said.

When his family moved into North Waco, the neighborhood was a disaster, he said.

But over the past few years, he has seen a new crowd of Wacoans in his neighborhood, and they shop at the fair-trade store. It has added to the overall success of the café and has brought in people who wouldn’t typically venture to North Waco.

“Quite honestly, the fair trade was doing better than the café,” Dorrell said, referencing the market’s opening a few years ago. “The middle-class people didn’t come to my neighborhood for a long time. Now they come in droves. It’s kind of a social entrepreneurship approach.”

worldcup indiabag400V-bag from India, a fair-trade peoduct available at World Cup Cafe.Mission Waco/Mission World has made a connection with 50 women in Haiti who produce fair-trade items to be sold at the store. Dorrell considers the women as Mission Waco/Mission World’s own cooperative group. The women, who without their fair trade revenue would make less than $1 per day, produce items sold in the store and participate in a Mission Waco/Mission World-sponsored business Bible study.

Dorrell believes the fair-trade market fits into his ministry’s overall mission to provide Christian-based, holistic relationship-based programs that empower the poor and marginalized.

“From rehab all the way to economic houses to building houses … it’s a healing and hope theology,” he said.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email

Care to comment? Send an email to our interim opinion editor, Blake Atwood. Maximum length for publication is 250 words.