BAFTS’ member Best Years gets article published on EYD2015 website

It is great to work in collaboration with like-minded organisations. So, when WFTO-Europe (World Fair Trade Organisation, Europe) contacted BAFTS a few weeks ago to see if any of our members would like to send them some stories to be published on the European Year of Development 2015 website under specific monthly-themed headings, we ensured that members were made aware of the deadline, criteria and contact details as soon as possible. As WFTO-Europe pointed out, the best way to reach out to people is by telling the real stories of how the actions in the world change lives. Storytelling as a means of fostering identity, memory and action, is a key tool in achieving the EYD2015 objectives and fulfilling their motto “Our world, our dignity, our future.”

We are delighted that one BAFTS’ member Best Years has had two stories accepted. One for the month of April and another for the month of June. These stories appear on the European Year of Development website for that month as a result. The first one can be found here and tells the story of Bulbuli, an elderly Bangladeshi widow who has found some security and better quality of life in crocheting part-time for Pebble toys.

The monthly topics for the remaining months of the year are as follows:10357257_852299258156147_8129033894163277649_n

 April – Health

May – Peace and Security

June – Sustainable Growth, Decent Jobs and Businesses

July – Children and Youth

August – Humanitarian Aid

September – Demography and Migration

October – Food Security

November – Sustainable Development

December – Human Rights

Posted in Fair Trade


For the complete article go to Fairtrade International website. This a shortened version.

The FAIRTRADE Marks are the globally recognized symbols of the international Fairtrade system. When you buy products with any of the FAIRTRADE Marks, you support farmers and workers as they improve their lives and their communities. Products bearing these Marks meet the internationally-agreed social, environmental and economic Fairtrade Standards. The FAIRTRADE Marks are registered trademarks owned and licensed by Fairtrade International. For more information on the specific FAIRTRADE Mark found on your products, please see below.





The FAIRTRADE Mark is recognized by consumers around the world as the leading social and sustainable development Mark. It inspires high trust in consumers around the world that a considered purchase improves the lives of people and communities in developing countries.

The FAIRTRADE Mark can be found on a wide range of products – numbering over 27,000 around the globe – including food and drinks, cotton and clothing, and even jewelry made from Fairtrade gold and other precious metals.

  • Single ingredient products – If you’re looking at a bag of Fairtrade coffee or a bunch of Fairtrade bananas with the FAIRTRADE Mark, 100% of the product meets the Fairtrade Standards.
  • Composite products – For products like cookies, ice cream and chocolate bars, all ingredients that can be sourced as Fairtrade must be Fairtrade. This is the ‘all that can be’ principle. The percentage of each Fairtrade ingredient must be displayed on the back of the pack. And at least 20% of the content must be Fairtrade certified. Many companies go above and beyond that.
  • Traceability – Most Fairtrade products are physically traceable. This is not required for cocoa, sugar, fruit juices and tea.

Products with the FAIRTRADE Mark are available in more than 120 countries. In Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland, the Mark will also include the words ‘Max Havelaar’ below FAIRTRADE.

The FAIRTRADE Program Marks


If you see the FAIRTRADE Program Mark for cocoa, sugar or cotton, it means that the indicated commodity has been sourced as Fairtrade. This provides more options for consumers to support Fairtrade farmers through everyday shopping and greater sales opportunities for farmers.

The FAIRTRADE Program Marks represent the Fairtrade Sourcing Programs, which honour the way that different companies do business. Some companies source all that they can as Fairtrade.Some companies source all that they can as Fairtrade. Others want to source 10 percent, 30 percent or even all of their overall volumes of an individual ingredient on Fairtrade terms. This new program allows companies to commit to Fairtrade and source large volumes of individual Fairtrade ingredients.

With the introduction of the FAIRTRADE Program Marks, Fairtrade is innovating in our system to secure greater sales volumes for Fairtrade producers and provide more options for companies and consumers. The FAIRTRADE Program Mark will begin appearing on products in select international markets in early 2014.

Posted in Fair Trade

Best Years Ltd – Updated “Pebble” blog on the Sundarbans Pre-school

Fair Trade is all about improving the pay, working conditions, gender equality, hours, opportunities and lives of producers and their families in developing countries. Below is a recent wonderful example of how one of our suppliers, Best Years, has funded a pre-school in Bangladesh. Such a provision is relatively unheard of there and the children look really thrilled to be learning in a safe environment whilst their mothers work. The blog is from Samantha Morshed, founder and CEO of Pebble, who produce crochet, hand made, fair trade cotton toys, which Best Years distribute for them.

“Back on 8th December 2014, I wrote a blog showing you the opening of a new pre-school in the Sundarbans, funded by the customers of our UK distributor, Best Years Ltd. Liz and Gaynor were visiting Bangladesh from the UK and took the opportunity to open the school themselves while visiting the Hathay Bunano centres in that area.

Best Years School

Image: preschool in Sundarbans two months on

Two months since opening, the pre-school is now really thriving. The concept of a pre-school was entirely new to the people of this area. Traditionally in Bangladesh children do not go to school until they are 6 years and children who are younger tend to just run around the village unsupervised. Whilst the thought that little ones can be completely free to run around is nice on the one hand, on the other hand, drowning is the single biggest killer of under 5s in Bangladesh. It’s a statistic that surprises many. Most people imagine that dysentery or diseases which cause dehydration, like Cholera or Typhoid, would be the biggest killers but they are not. Bangladesh is a delta region and as well as 3 huge rivers running their way through it to the Bay of Bengal there are many thousands of smaller rivers and tributaries, as well as lakes and ponds where fish are cultivated. When you drive around the countryside in Bangladesh in the dry season, it looks almost like the whole country is a river bed and of course, during the monsoon, much of it is flooded.

So creating pre-schools alongside our rural production centres is not just about educating children and giving them a good start and a better chance of getting into school at 6 years, it is also about keeping them safe while their mummies are working.

 Best Years School

Image: children learning in the preschool

The children are all now aware of the routine of the pre-school and happily attend every day. Friday is the weekend in Bangladesh and so on Friday it is closed. There is no curriculum for pre-schools in Bangladesh, because the concept isn’t really known here, but through our other pre-schools we have learnt and put together a basic curriculum that works. Challenging enough that the children are learning and with lots of fun because they are still very young.

Best Years School

Image: Learning English letters in the pre-school

The children learn both English and Bangla letters. There is a long history of speaking English in Bangladesh, back before independence and whilst Bangladesh fought for its independence on the basis of the language movement and having Bangla as the primary language, rather than Urdu, it is generally accepted that English is very useful if you want to get a job in the city or go to University and these days with the IT industry growing rapidly, it is recognised as very useful for computer programmers. It was great for me, when I first came to Bangladesh, because so many people I met spoke some English and so it helped me a lot in communicating and in learning Bangla.

Best Years School

Image: preschool in the Sundarbans

It’s really a joy to see this little pre-school thriving and the children enjoying the opportunity it offers and of course, knowing that they are safe while their mummies work.

Best Years School

 Image: teaching the children

I hope you enjoy this update on this lovely new little pre-school. Thanks go to Best Years Ltd, the Pebble distributors for the UK, France, Scandinavia and Ireland for supporting this.

Posted in Fair Trade

Myakka opens first shop; awards for Kerala Crafts and Voyage Fairtrade

Fairtrade Fortnight is always jam-packed with lots of exciting and inspiring activities, events and awareness-raising campaigns up and down the country. We are proud of all our members’ achievements but do not have the time and space on the website to showcase them all. Here are two news items which we have been asked to share and we hope you enjoy reading about them. Well done to all who took part in a whole host of other events in your own areas!

First off, Myakka opened its first shop, bringing fair trade solid wood furniture, soft furnishings, lighting and home accessories to Guildford, after having successfully traded for many years through its dedicated mail order catalogues and website.

Founder and Director, Georgie Hopkins, explained: “This is a really exciting time for Myakka. We have a very different approach to fair trade; our products are design-led, covetable pieces in fresh, individual styles that are perfect for modern living. It is fantastic to be able to provide customers with an opportunity to see and touch products before they buy, particularly with the larger furniture items. ”

The furniture is made from sustainable hardwoods from properly run plantations, including sheesham, monkey pod and mango wood. There are hand-waxed ranges, or alternative finishes, including items for the living room, bedroom, hallway, dining room and office. The majority of the furniture is designed and made exclusively for Myakka, but some items have been made to fulfil customer demands eg space-saving bookshelves and space-making sideboards; a nest of tables for awkward corners and storage coffee tables. A wide selection of lamps, lights, candles and lanterns are also available alongside soft furnishings such as rugs, cushions and throws. Finishing touches are provided by mirrors, photos frames, wall hangings and tableware. For more information visit

Secondly, the South West Fairtrade Business Awards were held again towards the end of Fairtrade Fortnight, and two BAFTS’ members came up trumps. Christine Snow from Kerala Crafts was selected as Joint Winner in the Best Fairtrade retailer (Multiple products) category, and Sam Birtwistle from Voyage Fairtrade was one of several businesses selected in the coveted Gold category. Christine explains below:

“We were thrilled to be joint Winners of “Best Fairtrade Retailer – Multiple products” at these awards. This was one better than the Gold we received last year. The Annual Awards Ceremony took place at The Watershed, Bristol, on 6th March, and it was announced that applications for awards were up by over 40% this year.

Christine Snow with Award 6.3.15

Christine Snow (Kerala Crafts) with her Joint Best Fairtrade Retailer (Multiple Products) Certificate and Award 2015. Image from

Speakers included: Liz Zeidler, Chair of Bristol Green Capital Partnership; Sophi Tranchell, Managing Director of Fairtrade leader, Divine Chocolate; Chris Pay, Head of Shared Interest Foundation; Laura Daniel of Aardman Animations (Aardman are working with Divine Chocolate on the Shaun the Sheep Easter Egg); and Angela del Socorro Zelaya Jarquin, coffee producer from Nicaragua. There were 8 categories for ‘Best Fairtrade':

Accommodation/conference centre; Cafe/restaurant; Office; Retailer – single product; Retailer – multiple products; University/college;  Advocate award; Best Fairtrade Business.

The Best Fairtrade Retailer of Multiple Products was the most hard fought of categories. The joint winners were ourselves, Bath based Kerala Crafts and Bristol based The Better Food Company. Chris Pay, Head of Shared Interest Foundation, who presented the engraved Bristol Blue Glass Award to Kerala Crafts said ‘The winner only sells fair trade goods, sourcing from some of the most disadvantaged communities in India thereby transforming the local economy, particularly the lives of women. They clearly communicate their fair trade ethos to customers and other retailers they provide goods to. They take part in local Fairtrade events and use every opportunity to promote fairtrade locally and nationally’.

Posted in Fair Trade

Hadeel Open Evening with Zaytoun and Palestinian Farmer 4.3.2015

It may only have been for a few hours, but Kathryn, our BAFTS’ Marketing and Membership Coordinator, could not resist a quick dash up to Edinburgh to attend the Hadeel Open Event which welcomed Zaytoun’s Palestinian Director Taysir Arbasi, and Palestinian olive and almond grower Mohammad Irsheid, to talk about how Fairtrade, the Fairtrade premium, and fairly-traded products (most, but not all of their products carry the FAIRTRADE Mark) are helping growers in Palestine survive on trade, not aid, and permitting glimpses of a future working with dignity.

Taysir pointed out that the Israelis want to keep the Palestinians dependent on aid, and distort the facts eg how long settlements have actually been there. He worries about the Settlers’ party getting voted in at the next election, and whether there will be more evacuations of Palestinians from their land. With the help of Fairtrade, the growers would rather stay on the land, and produce the highest quantities of quality products possible.

He introduced Mohammad Irsheid, from the Sir village Co-operative, in Jenin, and a member of the Palestinian Fair Trade Association who discussed problems caused by the separation wall, checkpoints preventing easy access to his family lands, and the incidents of olive trees being cut and burnt by the Israeli army and settlers. He did not speak English and had an interpreter. He was proud of growing olives, almonds and corn.  Thirteen other families worked alongside him. He was keen on organic production, explaining that all work was done by hand. He prided himself on the quality of their olive oil and explained that the Fairtrade premium was 2.5 shekels per every kilogram sold, with 1.5 shekels going back to the farmer, and the other to the co-operative.

Hadeel event in Edinburgh: L to R Translator, Mohammad Irsheid Canaan Fair Trade grower, Alistair MacLeod. Chair of Palcrafts and Hadeel Councils, Taysir Arbasi, Zaytoun Palestinian Director

He enthused about the interest-free loans which the PFTA provide, and the “Trees for Life” scheme which they run (please refer to their website for more detail). He told of them providing bursaries for their children to go to University and that they were going to develop a Research Centre for Organic Farming. Zaytoun had been one of the first companies to buy their products,  one of the biggest olive oil exporters, and the first company to have their olive oil certified with the FAIRTRADE Mark.

Despite great restrictions as to which family member got to tend their crops for a limited amount of hours (which seemed to be decided on a whim), the physical obstacle of the separation wall, the draining of water out of the West Bank, the increasing settlements, the cutting down of olive trees to enable further land confiscation by the Israelis, and the prohibition on using cameras and ‘phones, he was thankful for his lot: grateful to be a member of the PFTA, aware of the improvements which fair trade terms had brought, sad for those who hadn’t yet joined, and pleased that helpers who had come to Palestine had taken photographic evidence of the real situation. He was the youngest of the farmers and very grateful to visit Britain and have the opportunity to tell his story.

Posted in Fair Trade

FSPs (Fairtrade Sourcing Programs): what they mean

As news breaks today, just ahead of Fairtrade Fortnight, about Mars Chocolate UK being the first UK company to enter into a Fairtrade Sourcing Program for cocoa, we have shortened an article from the Fairtrade Foundation to explain the differences between products sourcing only one ingredient under fairtrade terms, and “all-that-can-be” Fairtrade products, plus looking at changes to labelling. The whole article can be found at

“Fairtrade Sourcing Programs for cotton, cocoa and sugar were introduced by Fairtrade International in January 2014 to boost the volumes of cotton, cocoa and sugar that Fairtrade certified farmers are able to sell on Fairtrade terms so that greater impact can be delivered for small-scale farmers in the developing world, who rely on Fairtrade to earn a fair price and work towards a more sustainable future.

Over the years, with the support of businesses, we have made significant headway in making trade fairer for farmers and workers in the developing world. But currently just 1.2% of global cocoa sales and less than 1% of global sugar sales are Fairtrade.

Fairtrade Sourcing Programs are an additional way for businesses to source Fairtrade, and runs in parallel to the existing FAIRTRADE Mark. Under the new scheme, businesses can source Fairtrade cocoa and sugar as raw commodities, and communicate their commitments through the FSPs.

FSP explained

Fairtrade Sourcing Programs were launched in some international markets earlier in 2014 – including Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Holland and Japan. As a result, global volumes of producers’ sales of Fairtrade cocoa are set to increase by over 20% in 2014, leading to an extra $1.8m in Fairtrade Premium for cocoa farmers.

We are now looking to work with UK businesses in key product categories with the explicit focus on securing new and additional commitments for sugar and cocoa farmers, alongside the range of products certified by the familiar FAIRTRADE Mark.”

Posted in Fair Trade

A retrospective on the BAFTS’ Spring Fair Panel Discussion

It doesn’t seem like a week already, but it is indeed seven days since the first ever BAFTS’ Panel Discussion at Spring Fair. The theme picked out several strands of successful fair trade retail: Kathryn, our Marketing and Membership Co-ordinator, chaired the discussion and introduced the five speakers in turn: Jo Pollard (Aztec Arts) on effective display in a small space, and getting the message across about the benefits of fairly-traded products; Robert Colquhoun (Myakka) talking about effective Direct Marketing; Ali Clifford (Myakka) on effective social media; Laura Cave (Just Trade UK Ltd) on the story behind the products, and Barb Wilson (LoveThatStuff) on a general overview.

The whole discussion lasted 45 minutes and was spread quite evenly between speakers. It was great to see up to 60 people seated and standing, to listen to the seminar. Some of the audience consisted of BAFTS’ suppliers who had taken time off their stalls to support us, BAFTS’ shops who were following our Trail (some had come especially on the day to hear us, thank you very much!) and some customers of our supplier members. Joanna and I worked out that we recognised about half of the audience, and we were thrilled that so many others had stopped by to listen.10981401_801866533182179_2076462712106278411_n

Spring Fair had in part dictated the scope of the talk and asked that we use minimal visuals, which caused a few problems in trying to depict eg effective displays, but Laura Cave was able to show some producer images which really helped to get across the message of what a difference fair trade can mean in the way of helping families and communities, by paying a better wage and teaching them skills to create marketable items for the Western world.

The seminar was very well received and there was a minor Twitter flurry when I got back home. Thank you to everyone who posted their support. It was a very proud moment to stand back and realise that BAFTS was taking the stage and raising the profile of our organisation, our members and fair trade in general in an essentially mainstream Trade Fair. With our bright new banner and leaflets at the ready, it was indeed an excellent chance to up our game.

We were very grateful to members who gave us feedback and made suggestions for future tweeks and improvements. Whilst we are very thankful to Spring Fair for the opportunity to take the stage, we realise that one session of forty-five minutes is insufficient to cover all aspects relating to BAFTS and fair trade, and will continue to seek out more awareness-raising opportunities to promote the benefits afforded to marginalised producers in developing countries.

Posted in Fair Trade

New information on website 8.1.2015

Happy New Year to all our readers!

Recently we have uploaded new versions of the BAFTS’ DSRs (Direct Sourcing Retailers) to our Resources page (item 8), and uploaded the BAFTS’ Trail for Spring Fair 1-5 February at NEC, Birmingham there too (Item 15). We are delighted to also be hosting a Panel Discussion on Fair Trade Retailing on Tuesday 3rd February 13-15-14.00 in the Trends Theatre, Hall Six, and look forward to seeing you there!

Posted in Fair Trade

Closure dates over the Christmas period 2014-2015

Please note that BAFTS will close at 12 noon on 24th December 2014 and re-open on Monday 5th January 2015 at 9am. Wishing all our members, enquiring businesses and supporters of fair trade a very prosperous trading period this Christmas, and a peaceful start to 2015!

Posted in Fair Trade


Never before have I (Kathryn, BAFTS’ Marketing and Membership Coordinator) attended an event where a carpet was laid out before me – a carpet of aromatic, crisp olive leaves sent by a Palestinian grower whose visa had been delayed and could not be with us in person to celebrate Zaytoun’s 10th Anniversary event. I felt humbled to tread upon them but was warmly welcomed to do so. This welcome set the tone of warmth, generosity and sharing for the whole evening; a tone which I now understand to be typically Palestinian. Read the whole article about this delightful heartwarming event here…Zaytoun 10th Anniversary 

2014-11-28 19.20.45

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