Who we are
The origins of Lydia
Our story starts with the name Lydia. We went back into history searching for the origins of international trade and found where it all started, the Kingdom of Lydia, a society of merchants and one of its descendants called Lydia. The earliest coins in the world, about 650 BC, were authorised by the kings of Lydia. The Lydians had been the first to strike true coins -tokens of standard, weight and imprint- and in the sixth century BC money began to be widely used in both foreign and international trade. A system of coinage followed by retail shops spread from the kingdom of Lydia to the Greek harbour cities and that shaped into a new system of international trade.
In 50 AD, seven hundred years later, a trade agent known as Lydia from Thyatira sold purple cloth. Her name proved that Lydia was still a society of merchants, well-known for its highly esteemed trading standards and high quality products. Lydia was an ambassador and pioneer representing the trade of her home country in the most important city of Macedonia, Philippi. Located on the Egnation Highway, Philippi was also called the gateway to Europe and via Philippi your product would travel quickly into Rome and Europe. Coming from Thyatira, the city famous for producing excellent Tyrian purple, she left her trading community to expand the trade in purple cloth into the young but very prosperous Roman empire with Rome as its centre of power where rulers resided, the potential buyers of her products.
Lydia’s story is quite exceptional, she left home and moved to another part of the world to represent her trading community and was called after her trading society. It signifies a far-reaching association and a high standard of trustworthiness required for high-value goods like purple cloth.
Fast forward to 2017, we believe that international trade characterised by association and high standards of integrity is desperately needed to restore economies that have suffered too long under systems of economic injustice. You can read more about this in the next section.
Today, there is an urgent call for equal access to the global market and we believe the story of Lydia conveys the necessary solution. We started to explore how this could be shaped and formed in a way that would answer the demands of the modern-day global market and the needs of the entrepreneur at a distance from that market. How to combine these demands and needs in a successful trade formula that will work out over the generations and accomplish wealth creation in areas kept in poverty by unfair systems for often a long period?
During 2015 and 2016 we visited several businesses operating within the international trade sector to do research. Our most important findings are summarised below.
Trading in commodities should become the exception and export of value-added products the new normal
Within the established trade system, a significant part of the trade is done on commodity markets against unacceptable low prizes. At the beginning of the trading chain, people are kept in ignorance, disconnected from industrial activity and they even lost their say over their resources and land. Raw products leave the country without any form of processing and prices are controlled by foreigners. Communities are struggling to survive, since the revenue for their raw products is so low and prices keep falling. This way, wealth is extracted from their economy and we believe that this needs to stop. Products should no longer leave the country without being processed. The export of value-added products should become the new normal.
Reliable and associated trade agents should bridge the distance created by market concentration
Market concentration means the degree to which a small number of companies control a large part of a market. When market concentration is based on extracting raw commodities from weak economies, it not only controls markets but also communities and nations. Through the absence of a proper domestic business sector, they become financially dependent on the investments of the same companies that are extracting wealth from their country. Even worse, generating wealth through exports has become difficult since international trade systems are organised to serve the interests of the dominating companies. Trading rules, regulations, transport and trading prices form insurmountable barriers. To grow economically strong, exporting value-added products is even important as domestically producing these products. People are not only disconnected from industrial activity but also placed at a distance from the global market. After producing products domestically, they need reliable and associated trade agents internationally who can bridge that distance for them.
Investing should replace foreign aid
Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the economy and they need to take charge of building their economy. To build a healthy economy investments should replace donations. Foreign aid often meddles with economic growth in a negative way, sometimes the influx of donated goods ruins businesses. Instead, domestic businesses should direct financial funds to build their community. Only through them economic structures can be effectively and firmly established and maintained, since businesses stay longer than relieve projects.
With our businesses, we want to create equal access to the global market for domestic manufacturers that produce value-added products and invest in their community. For more information on what we do, we invite you to read the section “What we do”.
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