While the first social economies seem to have been formed in America in the early 19th century, either through the mutual aid of workers or that of cooperatives, it was not until the end of the 1980s when the manifestations of communal commercial efforts truly began to blossom.

Demographic growth and the capitalist system —which favors, for example, the speculation of food prices— have resulted in an enormous inequality in the distribution of wealth. As a result of the market liberalization, many countries ignored food security, and in turn invested in products that were more profitable for exportation. The farmers’ support system was therefore abandoned, forcing agriculturalists to compete with international food prices and imported products. In this context, Father Francisco Vander Hoff paradigmatically changed the expectations of small producers and farmers across the globe.

Vander Hoff was born in Holland in 1939. He was the son of an agricultural family, and he studied economic policies and theology in the University of Radboud in Germany. When he was young, he became involved in the pro-democratic student movements of his time. Later, in 1973, he moved to Mexico City to work in the poorest neighborhoods and soon moved to Oaxaca, one of the poorest, albeit, most magical areas in the country, where he worked with local coffee producers.

In 1988 Vander Hoff had already created the first certification for fair trade products in the world. He helped coffee farmers in Oaxaca export their products to Europe, following a model that would give them a fair pay for their work, according to sustainable logistics. The project unchained a global fair trade network, establishing common wellbeing as the economic axis, replacing a system that was only concerned with profits.

Today, Father Vander Hoff still works in Oaxaca with indigenous farmers. In early 2013 he presented his most recent book entitled Manifesto of the Poor, Solutions Come from Below, which the European parliament eagerly anticipated. The book criticizes the orthodox free market and explains in detail his ideas and his experiences in the theory and practice of fair trade markets as an alternative to the traditional capitalist system.

Despite his low profile, Father Vander Hoff proved that solutions for the historically excluded classes seem to happen, gradually, “from below”. Beyond engaging with a direct struggle against the systematic origin of evil, he focused on designing a hack that he would embed inside that very system, unleashing a micro viral revolution. Change is an imminent part of the universe we know, thus the best way forward is to channel that movement for the greater good and hope it will spread and bloom —something that he has notably done with skill and integrity.

While the first social economies seem to have been formed in America in the early 19th century, either through the mutual aid of workers or that of cooperatives, it was not until the end of the 1980s when the manifestations of communal commercial efforts truly began to blossom.

Demographic growth and the capitalist system —which favors, for example, the speculation of food prices— have resulted in an enormous inequality in the distribution of wealth. As a result of the market liberalization, many countries ignored food security, and in turn invested in products that were more profitable for exportation. The farmers’ support system was therefore abandoned, forcing agriculturalists to compete with international food prices and imported products. In this context, Father Francisco Vander Hoff paradigmatically changed the expectations of small producers and farmers across the globe.

Vander Hoff was born in Holland in 1939. He was the son of an agricultural family, and he studied economic policies and theology in the University of Radboud in Germany. When he was young, he became involved in the pro-democratic student movements of his time. Later, in 1973, he moved to Mexico City to work in the poorest neighborhoods and soon moved to Oaxaca, one of the poorest, albeit, most magical areas in the country, where he worked with local coffee producers.

In 1988 Vander Hoff had already created the first certification for fair trade products in the world. He helped coffee farmers in Oaxaca export their products to Europe, following a model that would give them a fair pay for their work, according to sustainable logistics. The project unchained a global fair trade network, establishing common wellbeing as the economic axis, replacing a system that was only concerned with profits.

Today, Father Vander Hoff still works in Oaxaca with indigenous farmers. In early 2013 he presented his most recent book entitled Manifesto of the Poor, Solutions Come from Below, which the European parliament eagerly anticipated. The book criticizes the orthodox free market and explains in detail his ideas and his experiences in the theory and practice of fair trade markets as an alternative to the traditional capitalist system.

Despite his low profile, Father Vander Hoff proved that solutions for the historically excluded classes seem to happen, gradually, “from below”. Beyond engaging with a direct struggle against the systematic origin of evil, he focused on designing a hack that he would embed inside that very system, unleashing a micro viral revolution. Change is an imminent part of the universe we know, thus the best way forward is to channel that movement for the greater good and hope it will spread and bloom —something that he has notably done with skill and integrity.

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