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CTM-MAG : alternative financing for international fair trade

07 / 1993

CTM-MAG is the only member of the MAG movement active at national level. All other Mags limit their activities to their region. On the other side, Ctm-Mag has chosen to limit itself to one specif topic: the so called "commercio equo e solidale", fair trade activities with Third World countries. CTM started its activities to support international fair trade in 1988. It works with small cooperatives and producers from Third World countries who are trying to find alternatives to the rules of the international market. Ctm tries to facilitate the distribution of their products avoiding the usual mediation process. In so doing it intends to strengthen the experiences and the means of people in Third World countries that are struggling for fairer work and trade conditions. In order to achieve this it sells products at a fairer price which is always agreed to with producers.

Since 1989 Ctm has created its own Mag acting as an holding which promotes a saving and credit scheme aimed at supporting fair trade activities. Ctm-Mag finances the activities of the local shops (Botteghe)and the national coordination office of international fair trade in Italy and several Third World cooperatives. To this Third World producers they guarantee the payment along with the request for products. This requires an available fund of several hundreds of millions of lire. Ctm-Mag has 35 local groups in Italy. Along with the bi-monthly "L’altro mercato" they keep the 1186 individual and 77 collective members of Ctm-MAG informed of the activities of the cooperative.

There are two full-time staff working in the coordination office, on a salary of around two million Lire. Recently Ctm-Mag has also established a regular working relationship with three consultants on marketing, fiscal and information matters. It also makes use of external consultancy for legal questions. Ctm-Mag has a social capital of 370 million Lire (around 250.000 US $)and a fund of its members’ savings of 3.600 millions Lire (around 2.4 millions US $). The main external contacts have been made with Caritas, Lega delle Cooperative, Acli and other NGOs working in Third World countries.

Palabras claves

cooperativa de ahorro y de crédito, financiamiento alternativo, comercio justo, cooperativa, cooperación, comercio, relaciones internacionales

, Italia, Padova


The growth of Ctm-Mag in its first four years is very impressive. In 1989 it had90 members and 210 million Lire in savings. At the beginning of 1993 it had 1186 members and over 3.600 million Lire in savings from all over Italy. However most of savings and members come from the North-East Italy where the cooperative was originally set up and where its coordination office is still located. Very recently it has been slowly expanding in the regions of Southern Italy. A possible middle term (5-8 years)strategy could be to turn Ctm-Mag in a formal bank.


Translated by Alessio Surian. See also the general introduction to Mags




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