BAFTS’ member Little Trove wins “Business Boost” award

It is great to hear news of our members doing well. It is even better to be able to share this news with our readership. Here, we are delighted to reproduce an article on Little Trove who are a quite recent member of BAFTS and have won a Business Boost award of £1000 and a part-time apprentice. Ramona’s hard work and belief have proved vital in her winning the award, including her knowledge as a lawyer as to the types of business which qualify as social enterprises. Here is the full story reproduced from their own website 

“I am proud to say that Little Trove has bagged another business award!

Last year, I entered a business competition in Staffordshire called the Business Boost Awards offering prize money of £1000 and a part-funded apprentice. I entered in the entrepreneurial spirit category. I guess the judges were impressed by our combination of fair trade products and party planners conducting home parties because they awarded us the first prize! With the £1000, we installed a wooden cabin in our warehouse to create a heated space for my apprentice and I. I was very grateful for the win because our warehouse is otherwise freezing cold! I didn’t win the apprentice prize though. I guess applying for an apprentice in warehousing and logistics wasn’t sexy enough.

So this year in June when I saw the same advert about the competition, I thought I’d better not be too greedy. However, for the first time the organisers had a category entitled “recognising social enterprise”. I thought “what’s there to lose in trying?” We are a social enterprise and we need the money to subsidise those crazily expensive trade fair stands! Not to mention having a spare set of hands in the office will be useful if we get a new apprentice. I applied!

Stage 1: A simple application form asking the usual contact details, the intended use of the prize money, whether an apprentice was needed as well as a 100 word summary of the business.

Application Form

It was important here to make sure the summary fit the objectives of the category. Since it was for “social enterprise”, I made sure to say straight away that Little Trove was a fair trade company, whose mission was to increase living standards through trade. I explained the whole process from production to sales and reinvestment into the producer groups to highlight the social aspect of the enterprise.

Stage 2: An invitation to submit a business plan. Having passed stage 1, we were asked to submit a business plan by mid-Sept. Luckily, I have software called “Business Plan Pro” that takes you through the relevant parts of a business plan and puts in fancy graphs! The plan encompassed general information about the business, market research, management structure, a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), a marketing plan, web plan, financial forecasts (including cash flow forecast) for 3 years etc etc.

Business Plan

I’m no expert but I gave it my best! I am always prudent and conservative in my forecasts, meaning I always deflate income projections and inflate costs. That way my forecasts show a worse case scenario. The hope is always to bring in more income and to reduce costs but I’d rather not be too optimistic in a plan.

 The plan was judged by a panel of businessmen. I had no idea if it was good or not.

Stage 3: Live presentation. I  was invited to make a 10 minute presentation to the judging panel on the morning of 9th October, in the final round of the competition. That morning, my husband and I went armed in very smart business suits, a power point presentation, product samples and marketing materials.

AlaynaJug-small

At that stage, you want to create an instant good impression. You want to show them that you are a solid business. We are a small company but that doesn’t mean we have to operate unprofessionally.

Confidence is key. If a business owner isn’t confident when they walk into the room, why should anyone want to buy what they’ve got to sell?

Passion is also important. If you’re in this fair trade business, you’ve got to be passionate about it. There are easier ways to make money than this. In this fair trade business, I visit remote corners of the world, create products with people who have very basic education and infrastructure, pre-pay the producers prior to production out of my own pocket and then have to pay exorbitant trade stand fees to attract retailers and offer credit to small shops that can’t afford to pay upfront for their small orders.

Trade imbalance

Only people who see the bigger social picture and realise that they can contribute to change will be bothered to do this. The world needs such mad people to equalise the imbalance in world trade. Quite frankly, I earned more and worked less as a solicitor.

For the presentation, I used a power point presentation I had prepared with powerful pictures of our producer groups and clear information about how the business operates, the benefit to the producers & the use of the prize money. Learning from last year that warehousing and logistics isn’t interesting, I applied for an apprentice in marketing and creative design instead. I showed what support and infrastructure would be available at our office to train an apprentice.

Little Trove | Weavers

Then a 20 minute Q & A from the judging panel, drilling down some financial information from the business plan etc etc. I sensed that one judge asked what legal structure we were (which is a limited company) because he had an issue with us not being a CIC (Community Interest Company). He didn’t say it but I knew what he was wondering. It’s important in life to see behind people’s questions. They asked something but what’s behind the question? Often you should answer the question behind the question because that sorts out the heart of the matter. People don’t always know to ask the right questions. I said we were a limited company but that we had incorporated a CIC to transfer into etc. My husband told me off later for giving too long an answer when a simple “limited” would have sufficed.

I can assure you with all my legal training and quoting the Guide on Social Enterprise on the Government BIS (Department of Business Innovation and Skills) website that a social enterprise can have many legal forms; a limited company, a CIC, a sole trader, association etc. You get my gist. A CIC is only one form of social enterprise. For more information: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/legal-forms-for-social-enterprise-a-guide 

Finals: Awards ceremony

I’m not sure what the speeches were about. I was too nervous thinking about the result. They showed video after video of the finalists; 14 in total across 3 category. Then ours. I saw the competitor’s video and thought “Crap we’ve lost, for sure”. They did marvellous work locally with families. Our social impact was abroad. Doubts creep in as to whether our business is good enough. The envelope is opened and it’s US! We won the first prize of £1000!

Little Trove | Business Boost Awards 2014

Our £1000 is going straight to Spring Fair 2015. Come see us in Hall 4, Stand number to be confirmed!

At the very end, were the 2 apprentice prizes v 14 finalists. I thought “no chance” of getting one. The first one is awarded to a IT company and the very last prize of the night goes to US! I couldn’t believe it for one second. We won a part-funded apprentice too! I could not have been happier! As I write this, I still can’t believe it. I’m waiting for the real cheque to arrive and for the apprentice provider to be in touch. I’ve also won some training vouchers from our chamber of commerce and 1 year’s membership of a social enterprise organisation.

Little Trove | Business Boost Apprentice Prize 2014

Did I tell you that the judge who drilled me at the Q & A said to me right after my win, as I shook his hand, that for him I wasn’t going to win because I was a limited company and that my one answer about us becoming a CIC was what swung it for him? I smiled and thanked him for the win, thinking with my legal brain that a social enterprise is about the purpose of a company not its legal form. You see how an answer answering his real question and not limited to his actual question made the difference between a win and a loss?

The point I would like to make is that people often think they aren’t good enough or that their competitors are doing better than they actually are. People sometimes don’t put themselves forward because they think they will lose. If you don’t try you’ve lost anyway! “

Posted in Fair Trade

“One World Week” (19-26 October 2014) Breaking Chains: Making Change

 “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Hand-Making-ChangeThis week is One World Week, and seems suitable for a pause for thought about how we, as members of a fair trade organisation, or as readers of our website who are interested in our cause, can help make a difference and break some chains in the realm of trade. Many of the ideas come from the One World Week website and pick up the strand about trading differently.

 “Living Differently” is the theme for One World Week 2014 and leads on from last year’s theme about consumption. It recognises that we as responsible citizens need to make changes to secure a fairer, more satisfying, life for us all and one that protects the planet’s resources for future generations. The subtitle “Breaking chains – making change” is inspired by Nelson Mandela’s words:

“… to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”.

This year, OWW is drawing attention to campaigns and events which promote and involve active citizenship through sourcing food differently, reducing wastefulness, and using money differently.  These simple steps can help us to break the chains of the global food supply systems and consumer habits that damage the environment and communities worldwide and challenge the current money markets by using money positively to make the changes that can build a fairer and more sustainable world.

Fair Trade fits perfectly into this equation, as it challenges the way in which global trade is currently carried out, by putting the producer before profit. It demands fairer pay, better conditions, more gender equality, transparency, long-term partnerships, and no child labour. The WFTO 10 Principles of Fair Trade to which BAFTS and its members adhere is testament to this “alternative” form of trading. So, every time you buy fair trade you are helping break the chains of poverty for producers in developing countries, and helping them to be able to afford changes in their lives.

 

Posted in Fair Trade

“Pouring Oil on Troubled Water” Zaytoun reflects on 10 years of pioneering Fairtrade in Palestine

Zaytoun CIC, whilst not a member of BAFTS, is one of our close allies in fighting the war against unfair trade terms for disadvantaged and marginalised producers in developing countries.

They have worked hard for ten years to help Palestinian farmers carry out their traditional living in Gaza, with the threat of Israeli attack, Hamas’ counter attack and war as a near constant occurrence. Some BAFTS’ members and friends will remember Cathi Pawson’s stirring account of Palestinian families trying to harvest their olive crop against a backdrop of restricted access, limited permits, illegal land grabs and widespread destruction of crops. We are very pleased to be allowed to link here to Cathi’s reflections on those 10 years and what was deemed to be an impossible dream. Zaytoun’s 10th Anniversary event is at the end of November, and BAFTS is delighted to be able to be represented there.

An elderly Palestinian woman harvest olives near an Isreali separation wall in Binin Village. Image courtesy of Hami Abu Rahma.

An elderly Palestinian woman harvest olives near an Israeli separation wall in Binin Village. Image courtesy of Hamdi Abu Rahma via Zaytoun CIC.

Posted in Fair Trade

Crisp, bright new BAFTS’ banner mirrors website colours

We are delighted that our new BAFTS’ banner has been delivered with up-to-date logo, wording and images. The aim was to try and reflect some of the bold fresh look of this website, using background colours similar to the blocks of colour found on most web pages, eg orange, light blue, turquoise and dark blue. The match is not perfect, but the message is clear: to let members, the public, and possible new members know that we aim to spread consistent information about Fair Trade in a professional manner. We hope you like the result!

2014-10-03 12.23.53

Posted in Fair Trade

Headington Fairtrade (The Windmill) flags up BAFTS’ support

We are having a spate of articles appear on a variety of websites and online magazines at the moment, relating to one or more of our members and their successes, which is great to hear.

This article comes from a fellow fair trade shop which we hope might join us soon, and talks about their beautiful shop in Oxford, whilst also mentioning quite a few BAFTS’ suppliers and our organisation too. It is brilliant to have strong links with such like-minded supporters. We hope you enjoy reading the article!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Lanka Kade article on Gift Association Website

We are delighted to publicise another great write-up of one of our other supplier members, Lanka Kade, on the Giftware Association website. Here the amazing story is told of the beginnings of Lanka Kade some twenty years ago, when Diane and Upul (Directors) were working for the International Red Cross in Sri Lanka. It is a heart-warming encouraging story of fair trade principles, coupled with expertise, determination and a will to bring better opportunities to producers in Sri Lanka.

 

The GA is the common abbreviation for the Giftware Asociation, and their purpose is stated below (taken from their homepage):”The GA offers many products and services, including design protection, networking, training, legal help, advice and support as well as a host of other money saving services. One of The GA’s main focus is as a representative body putting forward the collective view and position of our members, generally to government departments, agencies and regulators and also to the media and other opinion formers. The GA is a non-profit organisation with a governing body made up of elected representatives from the industry.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Myakka wins “Good Shopping Guide” awards second year running

We are delighted to relate that Myakka, one of BAFTS’ Direct Sourcing Retailers, has achieved 100% for the second year running to top the rankings for Ethical Furniture in the Ethical Company Organisation’s listings (compilers of The Good Shopping Guide).

Here is a shortened version of the blog from their website. The full article can be found here:

For the second year running, we have received full marks from the Ethical Company Organisation in the Good Shopping Guide. We scored 100/100 on a list of ethical criteria putting us at the top of the list for ethical furniture. The Ethical Company Organisation carries out research based on 15 ethical criteria under headings of Environment, Animals and People to give each company an overall score. This encourages businesses to keep high ethical standards. It highlights good practices and shows more negative practices which require change.

This leading directory provides detailed information on all manner of products and organisations, from banks to butter, washing machines to jeans. It helps consumers make informed decisions on shopping with a clear conscience.

Posted in Fair Trade

Traidcraft “Clean and Fair” presentation

This presentation was kindly amended by Traidcraft to show BAFTS’ members and interested parties at our AGM and Annual Conference in May this year. However due to technical difficulties, it was not shown. As many members expressed an interest in seeing this Presentation, here it is now to view.  As it was amended for BAFTS specifically from their own presentation, it is only right and proper that their permission is sought first before being used for any other events.

Clean & Fair Presentation for BAFTS

Posted in Fair Trade

Fair Trade Fayre 18th October Amesbury

Please see the attached poster and cake bake leaflets for more information on this great-looking event.

Ft Poster for 18th October                    Fairtrade Bake competition poster

Posted in Fair Trade

Floods in Kashmir hit producers and artisans

The following transcript is taken from a Facebook post from BAFTS’ member, Fair to Trade, many of whose Christmas decorations come from the Kashmir region of India. We are saddened to read of increased long-term hardships for producers and artisans working with our suppliers.

“Kashmir, and its capital Srinagar where our papier-mâché producer is based, has seen terrible flooding over the past week claiming over 200 lives. While waters are receding, some 400,000 people are still stranded in the state and food and water supplies are running low. 

This morning we heard for the first time in over a week from our producer and wanted to share his story. He writes:

“It has been our second birth. I am sure you must be seeing News but you can’t even imagine what it was, It was like Tsunami and we didn’t even get any time to move. We have never ever witnessed such a devastating floods.

I have been trying to get in touch with all the artisans and raw material suppliers. Though I have not been able to get through all the RM suppliers especially places wherein the floods was severe but thankfully most are safe. One of my RM supplier namely Mehrajudin, his entire property and goods is completely submerged in water. The artisans who work on the production are all safe but have been impacted in some or other way with these floods. The situation still remains grim although it is improving. The loss of lives and property has been severe. The connectivity is still not fully restored.

Our shop in the Central Market is completely submerged in water. It carried Paper mache and everything is gone. It is located in one of the main cities of Srinager and the water level there was 15ft.

We have not been able to move everywhere as 80% of the roads are damaged and are still under water. Will send you the pictures once road connectivity is restored. It will probably will take close 7-8 days to restore things and gauge the exact loss and impact on everything. I will keep you updated.”

Posted in Fair Trade
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