The FAIR Shop 10th Anniversary Celebration Breakfast Brunch 3 11 2018

As a way of  celebrating BAFTS’ member shop, The FAIR shop’s, 10th Anniversary on 3.11.2018, we are delighted to include guest blog from ethical lifestyle Katie Yarde who was invited to the 10th Birthday Brunch in Brighton

The Fair Shop : Ten Years         Posted on 

34eee15a-fed6-43ab-94fe-7af9a3498820-1The Fair Shop isn’t just a treasure trove of gorgeous ethical, sustainable and fair trade fashion in the heart of Brighton; it’s also a thriving hub for suppliers, makers, activists, campaigners, customers, artists, work experience interns and bloggers across Brighton and Sussex. Owner, Siobhan Wilson has created a wonderfully unique space for those of us who want to consume fashion differently and make a positive change.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to The Fair Shop’s 10th Birthday Brunch yesterday morning at the Nightingale Room, Grand Central Pub, Brighton.

fe3a7778-4bbe-4f9b-b974-789f96d2f6ca-2The Fair Shop has successfully flourished without falling victim to the fast fashion trends that dominate most of our city centres. For me, it’s a sanctuary: the kind of shop where you always feel at home; where you can be confident in the provenance of new purchases; and where you know that each item bought will spark positive change somewhere, if not all the way through, the supply chain. And most importantly it’s always packed with incredibly lovely things. My Christmas list is growing exponentially at the moment.


img_2556Gorgeous new People Tree x V&A collection. Available now at The Fair Shop.

So, I say breath of fresh air but after 10 incredible years on Brighton’s busy Queen’s Road and with such a passionate following the shop is much more like a gust of greatness.

If only every shop could be like this. Siobhan’s an incredibly warm and supportive individual; I love spending time with her and I’m definitely guilty of popping into the shop just for a chat from time to time. Her knowledge of ethical fashion and fair trade is unsurpassed and her warm compassion and support has helped me on many levels of my own ethical lifestyle and blogging journey. Thank you, Siobhan. I truly mean that from the bottom of my heart.

2ae9ef0d-3f27-4614-97a1-ef86f874f9e6Well, what will you do?

Yesterday’s event was testament to The Fair Shop’s warm ethos: it was alight with positivity and hope. I left the event feeling inspired and uplifted. It was also super busy! The room was fit to bursting with a diverse crowd from all corners of the ethical fashion industry. I had the pleasure of sitting with the owners of Juna Jewellery and Believe You Can… We listened to talks from Jo Godden founder and owner of Ruby Moon, John Pritchard from Pala, the amazing Christine Gent (WTFO, People Tree Foundation, Fashion Revolution, Made 51Fairly Covered), Siobhan herself and finally a Q&A discussion with Safia Minney (People TreePoZu) hosted by Oliver Heath. It was such an honour to hear Safia talk ( last but one image)with such clarity and passion about sustainability, supply chains, the ethical fashion industry at large, human rights and what steps we can all take to make a positive change and to help clean up one of the dirtiest and most exploitative industries in the world. If that’s not empowering. I don’t know what is.

After the talks, I caught up with Emily from Zola Amour about the new items in her sustainable capsule range and plans for her forthcoming summer collection; I spoke with the fab founders of Revival Collectiveand heard all about the growing momentum behind their very successful Anti-Sweatshop Swapshop’s (the next one’s at Merkaba, Brighton on 23rd November, if you fancy going); and I met the owner of Unoa, who make the most incredibly soft and well-fitting organic and fairtrade sports and leisure-wear.

Ethical Fashion Needs You!

45303273_1997084050335273_3296655470063779840_nAs a blogger and ethical consumer, it’s easy to feel inadequate in a room full of the UK’s most successful ethical fashion movers and shakers. I know I did yesterday. But putting that to one side the resounding message of the morning was that it’s the consumers who hold the power in their purses. We can all help bring change. Money talks.

The ethical fashion industry is currently a collection of small businesses set up by passionate, talented and dedicated individuals. Yes, there are some bigger brands. But even the bigger ethical fashion businesses are still tiny compared to gargantuan high street brands. These small ethical businesses are giving us all the option of buying better; they are pioneering change.

If you watched Stacey Dooley’s recent BBC documentary and sat in shock at the disappearance of the Aral Sea; or sobbed through The True Cost Movie; or feel haunted by the thought of the micro plastics that wash out of every load of your laundry into the sea, but don’t know how to make a change, these are the businesses you should be looking to, these are the alternative. Getting behind these small ethical brands will force a change in mainstream trends; will increase the likely-hood of greater investment for further innovation; and by buying into their alternative business models we could force bigger brands to sit up and do more.

Ethical Isn’t Just For Christmas, But It’s A Good Place to Start 

45337707_1997084110335267_8185647129994199040_n (1)I’ve spoken to lots of different small business owners and makers this year. Alongside their passion and stories of positivity, the unanimous message is that they are struggling. Selling is hard. Securing investment is hard. Running a small business is hard. Capturing the public’s attention is hard. People are still overwhelming shopping from the high street. And when you’re trying to do the right thing and working all hours, this is a bitter pill to swallow.

So, let’s all do our bit, where we can. Maybe that’s supporting a handful of local business a few times a year instead of hitting the high street all the time; maybe it’s investing in a beautiful artisan item of clothing that you really love instead of hauling from the big brands; maybe it’s choosing gifts from local or ethical brands for friends and family, to spread the love. I mean, Christmas is just around the corner. Just think what would happen if everyone in the UK bought just one gift from a small, ethical business. The impact would be huge.

But I’m Just One Person

If you’re reading this and still think that your actions won’t or can’t help to move and shape a more positive, more sustainable, more ethical, kinder fashion industry you are wrong. So very wrong. We can all do our bit in lots of small steps. We could all choose to support a local business. We could all reach out to our local artisans. We could all bolster an ethical brand. If you live in Brighton, I’d urge you to go and take a look inside The Fair Shop and if you have any questions? One of their incredible team will be able to help you and give you advice and information. The staff in The Fair Shop are just as passionate about fair trade, ethical and sustainable matters as the people behind the brands stocked. If you live in a different town or city, why not find out if you have somewhere like The Fair Shop nestled in-between the regular shops on your high street? I know of Indigo in Oxford, The Keep Boutique and 69b Boutique in London off the top of my head. If you do, let me know and let’s keep the momentum behind them going.

Viva, The Fair Shop

And finally,

To The Fair Shop, thank you for showcasing so many wonderful and positive brands. Thank you for your kindness and support. Thank you for being different. Here’s to another amazing ten years.

Posted in Fair Trade

Stacey Dooley’s BBC1 Documentary “Fashion’s Dirty Secrets”

Write-up of BBC Documentary by Stacey Dooley Fashion’s Dirty Secrets

There has been a lot of activity on social media recently about plastics, waste, fear for the health of the planet, and this is the latest documentary by the BBC on the severe environmental and health impact of fast fashion in developing countries. The link to the programme (Iplayer) is included in the title, although this will not be shown indefinitely.

download (39)

Stacey Dooley seems to have shot to fame as a presenter of a string of BBC documentaries, but appears to have taken the time to do her homework on this subject, or have it done well for her. In the UK we (a very generalised “we”) spent nearly 50 Billion pounds last year on clothes, which are getting ever cheaper, and our insatiable appetites for throwaway fashion are getting ever greedier (a habit fed by the constant cycle of new clothes which brands make us feel we need to have before they are gone forever and replaced by next week’s collection). She reveals the dark underbelly of fashion which is the second most polluting industry only after oil, causing great environmental disasters for which no-one seem to want to take responsibility.

A survey of passers-by showed that many think fashion to be the least polluting after oil, beef, transport, tourism, and fracking, whereas it is the second most polluting. The general public are unaware because this is kept hidden. Creating vast quantities of new garments every year uses an enormous amount of water, fertilisers and pesticides, and one staple favourite – cotton jeans – is one of the worst culprits. In Kazakhstan, we are shown the paltry remains of the Aral Sea which used to span 68,000,000 meters squared, and shrunk drastically since water was diverted for feeding cotton production since the 1960s, and the rivers are drained before reaching the sea.  An expanse of water the size of Ireland has receded in four decades.

The lack of water determines the seasons and ecosystem – no water means there is only a dried up land mass, closer to a desert. The water mass helped keep the seasons mild, the sea life is gone, winters are colder, summers are hotter; it is much windier and there are huge dust storms carrying particles of chemicals from the cotton plants. The fishing industry has died out, and many people suffer now from TB, strokes, cancers and high blood pressure, from the chemicals in the air. Illness accompanies poverty in the Aral Region, because of the excess chemical by-products of cotton manufacture. A heavy cost for the production of excess garments for the Western world.

Lucy Siegle states that the business model for fast fashion is fast moving and based on high volumes and low prices. Whereas there used to be 4 Seasons of clothes, now there are up to 52 collections a year to be “on trend”. Stacey carried out another experiment showing how much water was used in producing the clothes which passers-by had in their bags – they had to guess how many litres, and most were shocked and upset, if not embarrassed. Damage to the environment is not just in developing countries – UK waste includes dumping clothing and micro fibres being washed out of clothes into the sea. At a Sustainability Summit in Copenhagen, she was amazed that the brands would not comment on her findings. As she said, it looked like they had something to hide…

Paul Dillinger Head of Innovations at Levis said that they were working towards the chemical deconstruction of cotton and using less water. He felt there would have to be a regulatory solution to force the fashion industry to comply. Safia Minney, MD of Po-Zu shoes, added that cotton was not the only problem; the same was true of producing shoes with thousands of toxic chemicals and that she was championing eco-friendly labels. She stated that the UK had exported its clothing and shoe industry and its toxic chemical bomb with it. What is needed is the removal of chemicals which are harmless to the environment and human health. The idea of cheapness has to be set against the human and environmental cost.

A trip to Indonesia showed the environmental devastation of rivers and nearby areas due to factories producing fashion garments. The local Citarum river was purple and black in areas, frothy in others due to a lack of oxygen in the water, with some waste pumped at night or in underwater pipes. The heat and smell were described as disgusting. Wildlife was dead and rotting. 50 factories use the river and samples were taken for testing. People nearby complained of skin diseases and paid for clean water for young children, otherwise they use river water for their daily needs. Heavy metals were found in the water eg mercury (causes brain damage), cadmium, lead (lowers a person’s IQ) and arsenic. Some activists had blocked up pipes despite threats.

Speaking to the Chairman of Textile Manufacture, he stated that regulation was not followed and he had no authority to close factories down. He stated that Western companies should ask about environmental concerns and not just the price, but they often only want to proceed if the price is right. He felt our planet could not survive the continuous depletion.

Back in the UK, neither the brands nor the Secretary of State wanted to listen or fobbed her off with short statements. Stacey approached fashion bloggers (“Influencers”) and showed them her findings. They were shocked and voted to include talk about sustainability in their vlogs to engage their audiences to look at consumption habits. It was interesting to see how the tide turned once these influencers took the lead.

Posted in Fair Trade



Greenock based social business, Trade Right International has been named as one of the UK’s top ‘Small Biz 100’ by Small Business Saturday. Trade Right International, and the CARISHEA brand of natural skincare, has been selected as a trail-blazer in the official count-down to Small Business Saturday, which takes place across the UK on 1 December 2018. Soap group & barsThe achievements and contribution to the local community of Trade Right International will be celebrated and spotlighted on one the 100 days running-up to Small Business Saturday. This is part of the campaign’s mission to celebrate small business success, and encourage the nation to ‘shop local’ and support British small businesses.

The 2018 Small Biz 100 are drawn from every corner of the UK and reflect the vibrancy of the UK’s 5.5 million small businesses. Reflecting the latest in innovative start-up trends, from ethical shopping, through to Artificial Intelligence, this year’s Small Biz 100 features a range of unique independent businesses. This year’s cohort joins hundreds of previous Small Biz 100 alumni champions, which have been celebrated by the iconic campaign since its UK launch in 2013.

 Director of Small Business Saturday UK, Michelle Ovens said:

“The launch of the Small Biz 100 marks the exciting count-down to Small Business Saturday 2018. We are thrilled to highlight the dynamic, creative and inspiring small businesses from across the country, as part of our campaign to celebrate and champion the success of the UK’s small businesses. The Small Biz 100 showcases the companies at the heart of the UK’s economy, which we need to support now more than ever.”

In its sixth year Small Business Saturday is the UK’s most successful small business campaign, which last year saw an estimated £748m spent with small businesses across the UK on Small Business Saturday.

A grassroots, not-for-profit campaign, Small Business Saturday was originally founded by American Express in the U.S. in 2010. American Express remains the principal supporter of the campaign in the UK, as part of its on-going commitment to encourage consumers to shop small.

The #SmallBizSatUK campaign trended at number one in the UK on Twitter during 2017, reaching over 115 million people globally. The Prime Minister and the Mayor of London were among those publicly supporting the campaign. Over 87% of local councils also supported the campaign.

Small Business Saturday also benefits from the backing of leading business organisations including the Federation of Small Businesses and Enterprise Nation. The campaign is also supported by Amazon, Indeed, Royal Mail, Vistaprint, Xerox, and Square.

Small Business Saturday 2018 is open to all businesses to participate in, and will commence its regional bus tour roadshow across the UK during the autumn, to drum up further support.

Trade Right International was chosen from 1,000’s of entries for their social business model, fair trade ethics, and luxurious Shea Butter skincare range, Carishea.  CEO Trev Gregory, said:

Trev & Denice Gregory

‘We believe social business can bring dignity and freedom to all involved, reducing the effects of poverty and social exclusion.  We work with communities in Ghana where women harvest shea nuts to produce shea butter which is then handcrafted into luxurious skincare products by recovering addicts and ex-offenders in Scotland.  We trade ethically, pay Living Wage, and return surplus profits into valuable education and community development projects.  It’s exciting that we’re getting this extra national exposure through SmallBIZ100 for our great natural skincare range, Carishea.’

SmallBIZ 100 will be promoting Trade Right International’s Carishea brand over the next 100 days. WELL DONE FROM ALL OF US HERE AT BAFTS!!!




Posted in Fair Trade


We are delighted to promote the fact that one of our suppliers Namaste UK has been working with the former Rugmark label, now Goodweave, in a bid to reduce child labour in the rug making industry. We originally learnt a bit about this association at our Annual Conference in York in May 2017. For starters, here is a short video link about the difference this sort of intervention can make in a young child’s life in the poorest parts of India* (see this link for further explanation)

GoodWeave Certified rugs at Namaste

“Namaste has been selling fairly traded rugs from India for many years. We are proud of the progress our suppliers have made with our help over the years. We have taken the extra step of GoodWeave certification for all of our Indian rug suppliers to provide the added reassurance of a totally independent monitoring body. GoodWeave is an award winning pioneering charity and we look forward to an exciting future with them. Namaste and our rug suppliers both contribute a % of the value of the rugs to GoodWeave which goes back into the communities where the rugs are made! GoodWeave aims to stop child labour in the carpet industry and to replicate its market-based approach in other sectors.

Namaste Goodweave 1Namaste Goodweave 2

The GoodWeave label is the best assurance that no child labour was used in the making of your rug. In order to earn the GoodWeave label, rug exporters and importers must be licensed under the GoodWeave certification program and sign a legally binding contract to adhere to GoodWeave’s no-child-labour standard; allow unannounced random inspections by local inspectors; and pay a licensing fee that helps support GoodWeave’s monitoring, inspections and education programs.

Each certified rug features a numbered label on the reverse that can be traced back to the producer, linking you directly to the lives at the other end of the supply chain. Buying a Goodweave certified rug from Namaste supports educational opportunities for children in India who might otherwise be required to work. Hand crafted by adult artisans, these rugs make a beautiful statement at home & make the world a better place. Meet some of the children and artisans whose lives are improved by your purchase by visiting

Goodweave’s new project is a two-year pilot in Northern India to establish and test a new sourcing system, which will tackle child and forced labour in apparel, fashion jewellery and home textile supply chains, especially at the homeworker level. Namaste are very happy to be involved in this and are putting in time and effort to work with Goodweave to help make this happen.

Posted in Fair Trade

BAFTS’ Annual Conference 20/21 May London SEE UPDATED GALLERY TOO!!!


Settling in to the Conference, image courtesy of Feng Ho, Fair Trade at St. Michaels.

Our BAFTS Annual Conference 2018 was held on 20th and 21st May in London, in Westbourne Grove Church in glorious sunshine. It was very busy from the word go on Sunday, helping attendees with name badges, goody bags, handing out Programmes; welcoming guest stallholders and speakers, and getting stalls set up – over the two days, stalls were on show from BAFTS’ members Koseli Wholesale, AURA QUE, Just Trade Uk Ltd, Lovethatstuff, Red Tribe, Enfair, Traidcraft, Zuza Trading, Where Does It Come From?, St. Nicolas,& Holy Lama Naturals and from guests, former member Achkiy, Shared Interest, Khadi CIC, and Safia Minney MBE, FRSA  (Slave to Fashion books). We were delighted with the number of attendees, not only from within our ranks, but friends and businesses interested to see what we were doing as an organisation and how we are moving forward.


Hazel Dobson, Gateway World Shop, at BAFTS Conference. Image courtesy of Feng Ho/Fair Trade at St. Michael’s

Over the two days we listened to Supplier and Shop shorts (10 minutes’ presentations apiece about various member businesses and fair trade principles) from Koseli, Zuza Trading, AURA QUE (see websites above); Gateway World Shop (no website); plus Siesta Crafts, St Nicolas, Lovethatstuff, Holy Lama Naturals and Where Does It Come From? Again, all website links are in the first paragraph.

Our informative and engaging speakers over the two day period, to whom we are most grateful for their time and  participation, were Safia Minney (Founder and Former CEO of People Tree and now of Po-Zu shoes) talking on Fair Trade and how it meets many of the 17 SDGs; Sian Conway (Ethical Hour on various social media platforms and engaging with your audience); Laura Cave (Just Trade Uk Ltd) about pricing differentials from various developing countries; and Sabita Banerji (Chair of Oxford Fair Trade Coalition) facilitating a workshop on gender equality in fair trade, using female cocoa farmers in Ghana as a starting point. On Monday, we welcomed Emilie Schultze, Campaigns Officer from Traidcraft Exchange updating us on post-Brexit Trade with developing countries, and their new tea transparency campaign; Jo Bega, CEO of Child Rescue Nepal reporting on their amazing work in Nepal preventing child trafficking and rescuing victims; and Josh Pitts, Co-Owner of Equal Exchange UK on why they had decided to remove the FAIRTRADE Mark from some of their products, and the trading model which they use.

The Monday afternoon concluded with our AGM, including discussions about how BAFTS moves forward in connection with our resolutions and Five-Year Strategic Plan. We were delighted to confirm Laura Cave, Just Trade UK Ltd, as Chair of BAFTS, and to have Marvi Scala (Lost in Samsara) and Martin Mikhail (RISC World Shop) join us on the Board. Martin joins us as new Applications Officer; and we are grateful to both of them for stepping up to take on Board roles.

Overall, we were very pleased to have such a mixture of member, non-members and invited guests or speakers attend this year, and look forward on building on our successes in years to come. In due course, presentations will be shared with members for personal reference use only, alongside Minutes and any other updated AGM documentation.

Posted in Fair Trade

BAFTS Annual Conference PROGRAMME 20/21 May 2018 London

BAFTS ANNUAL CONFERENCE Westbourne Grove Church London W11 2RW



















FULL PROGRAMME* (14/5/2018) *subject to change 

Sunday timetable 20th May 2018

BAFTS print COnf document 2018

9am -10.30am STALLS ARRIVE AND SET-UP 0nly come this early if Board/guest/ setting up stalls

  1. Zuza Trading SUNDAY and MONDAY
  2. Just Trade UK Ltd SUNDAY and MONDAY
  3. Koseli Wholesale SUNDAY only
  5. LovethatStuff SUNDAY and MONDAY
  6. Traidcraft SUNDAY and MONDAY
  7. Shared Interest (visitor) SUNDAY and MONDAY
  8. Red Tribe SUNDAY and MONDAY
  9. Enfair SUNDAY and MONDAY
  10. Achkiy (former member) SUNDAY and MONDAY

10.30 – 11.30 General member and guest arrival

Coffee, tea & supplier stall browsing

11.30-11.40 Official welcome; Order of the day/notices

LAURA CAVE, Board member, and Kathryn Sygrove, Executive Officer

11.40-12.45 Supplier stories

1) 11.40-11.55 Koseli Wholesale (Lynn Mold re fusion with EET)

2) 11.55-12.10 Zuza Trading (Claire Shepherd)

3) 12.10-12.25 AURA QUE, Laura Queening

4) 12.25-12.40 Gateway World Shop, Hazel Dobson

12.45-13.45 Lunch break

13.45-14.30 SPEAKER 1 Safia Minney, Founder and Former CEO of People Tree and now MD of Po-Zu shoes ‘Is Fair Trade the Answer to the Sustainable Development Goals?’

14.30-15.10 SPEAKER 2 Sian Conway, Ethical Hour “Know your audience: how to maximise use of social media platforms for your ethical business”

15.10-15.40 Tea and coffee break


Workshop 1: Gender and Fair Trade: The Story of Women Cocoa Farmers in Fair Trade short film (17 mins) produced by Dr Roy Maconachie, Bath University, Centre for Development Studies (CDS) about time inequalities and other prejudices against Ghanaian women who do all the chores, cooking, gathering, sorting children and a lot of the farming but often cannot afford their own land. Facilitator: Sabita Banerji, Chair of Oxford Fair Trade Coalition.

OR: Workshop 2: Laura Cave: The real cost of Fair Trade? What makes fair trade stand out/ differing basic costs in different countries

16.45- 17.45 Informal time for networking & browsing stalls PLUS:

Book in for 10 minute slots with Board members or Guest Speakers on subjects such as Social Media, Importing Issues, Product Design and Development. Book first come first served on the day.

18.00-19.00 Peruvian Evening meal – advise of any food requirements before 13 May.

19.00-21.00 and beyond…Entertainment  – a variety of activities



9.00 – 10.00 Supplier stalls open, tea, coffee & informal networking

Exhibiting stalls: Zuza Trading , Just Trade UK Ltd , Holy Lama (Spice Drops) , AURA QUE, Barb Wilson (LovethatStuff), Traidcraft , Where Does It Come From?, St. Nicolas, Shared Interest (visitor), Red Tribe, Achkiy (former member).

10.00 – 11.00 five supplier stories :

10.00 -10.12 Siesta Crafts, Jo Harper

10.12 -10.24 St Nicolas, Clare Ronai

10.24 -10.36 LovethatStuff, Barb Wilson

10.36 -10.48 Holy Lama Spice Drops, Gouri Kubair

10.48 -11.00 Where Does It Come From? Jo Salter

 11.00 – 11.30 Tea and stalls

11.30 – 12.15 SPEAKER 3: Traidcraft Exchange, EMILIE SCHULTZE, Campaigns Officer “Tea and post-Brexit Trade”

New tea supply chain campaign plus quick Brexit update

12.15 – 12.45 Jo Bega, CEO, Child Rescue Nepal – “How can a bowl of rice keep a child safe from traffickers?

12.45 – 13.30 Lunch

AND: 12.45-13.30 (over lunch) Shop drop-in session/ brainstorm in separate space with Panel members

13.30 -14.15  Josh Pitts, Co-Owner Equal Exchange UK : Our story and non-certification journey

14.15 – 15.00 Discussion on Resolutions

15.00 AGM

16.30 close / welcome any new Board members    



Posted in Fair Trade

KERALA CRAFTS (Christine Snow) WRITES on “KUDUMBASHREE initiative in Kerala, India

A few years ago I heard about something called Kudumbashree which I discovered was a movement unique to Kerala; an anti-poverty and gender equality movement for women.  I thought that it would be helpful to write about this initiative given that Kerala Crafts was also set up to give women employment and empowerment.

Kudumbashree means ‘prosperity of the family’ and will shortly be celebrating its 20th birthday.  It is built around 3 critical components – micro credit, entrepreneurship and empowerment.  To be poor, from a low caste and a woman, is a triple blow in Kerala.  This scheme is to help women such as these, to move forward and upwards in life.  This incredible movement takes some unpacking!

who can join Kud.

Kerala Crafts has been supporting the ladies of Kudumbashree through its purchases of handloom aprons, oven gloves and tea towels, and more recently, umbrellas (Kerala is the ‘umbrella capital’ of India – probably because it has 2 monsoons!)

Who can join Kudumbashree?

Poverty manifests in various ways, not simply regarding the lack of income.  Kudumbashree members are not identified only by absolute poverty or income levels.

At present, 3.5 million poor women participate in the Kudumbashree movement, which cuts across political ideologies and religious faiths.  This government aided programme works to give poor women equal opportunities in all areas of life that will empower them socially, economically and politically.

Kudumbashree logo 1Kudumbashree units are formed throughout neighbourhoods and groups comprising of no more than 20 women, form the backbone of Kudumbashree.   Signing up to join the Kudumbashree scheme, means that the women must attend weekly meetings which are held in the homes of members, where schemes and other issues are discussed.  The meetings also give the women a chance to socialise, and this makes them more confident about themselves and also ensures a steady income.

K women at a neighbourhood group meeting

“More than anything, it has liberated women to get out of the house and go to work.  In a traditionally male-dominated society – women participating in regimes, going to vocational training programmes and starting small businesses was not the norm.  Kudumbashree has helped to change this” states K.J. Sohan, former mayor of Kochi.

Micro finance is one of the most important functions of the scheme to alleviate poverty at grass roots level.  It operates various activities including a thrift and credit programme.   At the weekly meetings all members bring their thrift or savings, which can be as low as Rs10 (12p).  “The idea behind small savings is to encourage women, even those below the poverty line, to save.  Savings are collected and recycled in the system by way of sanctioning loans” says Priya Paul, project manager with Kudumbashree for more than 10 years.

Each neighbourhood group opens a joint account in a local bank, while each participant is given a separate pass book.  Once trained to make simple banking transactions, these women become more empowered.  Once savings are generated, heavily subsidised loans are granted.

These units can apply for loans either as a group or as an individual, from the panchayat (village based form of self-government) in rural areas, or the corporation in urban areas.  With the loan, the women are able to start up small-scale businesses, and they are eligible for subsidies too.  If they borrow 100,000 rupees (£1,140) they only have to repay 80,000 (£911) over a 2-3 year period.

 Some of the units that have formed small businesses have made their way up the ladder and are doing well.  They initially started with soap making, agarbathi (incense sticks) and washing powder etc.   This has now led to an extensive involvement in the food business in Kerala.  Snacks, pickles, curry powders and handicrafts are now widely available at fairs, festivals and stalls, and also through the local value chain ‘Homeshop’, set up in 2015 and now has stores in 200 village locations, providing self-employment to more than 400 producers and 1200 women.

Kudumbashree a

Kudumbashree has many strings to its bow, and these are some of the successful enterprises firmly established by Kudumbashree, embracing local, economic and social development and women empowerment:

  1. Santhwanam – detection and health checks, before hospital treatment may be necessary.
  2. Amrutham Food Supplement – nutritional food supplement provided at rural mother and child care centres for children aged 6 months – 3 years.
  3. Cafe Kudumbashree – specialising in Kerala cuisine, through food festivals, catering orders and canteens.
  4. Kudumbashree Travel – addressing concerns about safe travel for women and children, especially at unsociable times. It provides a professional taxi service with vehicles bearing the Kudumbashree logo, which makes it easily identifiable. The newly operational Kochi Metro, the 8th city to get a metro rail, is employing a workforce of 1,000 women to work in the 18 Kochi metro stations.  This makes it the first all-women run metro in the world.  The jobs include 7 women train operators as well as ticketing, customer relations, housekeeping,  parking management and running canteens.kochi metro women
  5. Kudumbashree Wellness Centres – evolved from the Santhwanam scheme (above 1.) The centres house modern equipment and holds classes on health issues and cookery classes.
  6. Kudumbashree Women Construction Teams – maximising the skills of women labourers in new technologies and emerging standards in the construction industry – this project is being piloted in

Ernakulam (Kochi).  Based on its success, it will be replicated in other cities.

  1. Farming Initiatives – increasing the visibility of women in agriculture, reducing drudgery and providing a livelihood opportunity by adopting sustainable and eco friendly agriculture.  Agriculture is perhaps Kudumbashree ‘s most successful endeavour, most probably due to Kerala’s fertile soil.    Not only has the project increased agricultural production, but it has also brought considerable fallow land back under cultivation and financially empowered thousands of women.  Currently, through consumer pressure, the provision of organic milk and poultry is being seriously looked into, which will be a great improvement.   The fresh milk and fresh chicken now provided from neighbouring state, Tamil Nadu is poor quality.agric has been one of K most successful stories

A family of 5 in Kerala (Land of Coconuts), consumes at least one coconut every day either in the form of oil, pulp or milk.  Kerala has 180 million coconut trees, but an acute shortage of climbers.  Ideally, coconuts have to be harvested every 45 days, which calls for at least 50,000 climbers for the trees, according to Kerala’s Economics & Statistics Department data.

Several years ago, the state realised that by opening up the job market to women, this would go some way to solving the problem.  Women from districts like Kozikode, Thrissur and Malappuram were trained to climb the trees with the help of a device and also given subsidised 2 wheelers and mobiles.  These devices prevent chest pains and scars usually associated with climbing trees.

Many women in the district can now earn up to Rs650 (£7.70) a day by climbing coconut trees, something no-one would have imagined possible just a few decades ago.

  1. Asraya – rehabilitation of destitute women with full support of local self-governance structures. This provides destitute families with food, housing, drinking water, sanitation, health care and clothing.

Part of this programme is BUDS – schools for children with special needs, where there is no discrimination.  There are now 63 of these schools in Kerala.

  1. Balasabha – specialised work with children to prevent inter-generational transmission of poverty.
  2. Tribal Development – bringing marginalised tribals under the aegis of the Kudumbashree network to provide them with facilities currently less accessible or denied.

In the past 10 years 106,162 tribal families have benefitted from this project.rangasree

  1. Rangasree – a programme to train selected women from Kudumbashree Theatre, with the aim of establishing community theatres in the state to promote awareness of social justice and equality.
  2. Anti-human trafficking – this is the 3rd largest organised crime in Kerala. Human trafficking caters to flesh trade, forced labour and illegal organ transplantation.  Preventative and rehabilitative interventions aiming to equip the victims, escapees and survivors, and to identify high risk groups are in operation.
  3. Nirbhaya – helping to prevent sexual violence against women and children, and to also prevent child abuse and sex-trafficking through accessible help-desks and counselling.
  4. KAASSKudumbashree accounts and audit service society; a home grown enterprise to ensure proper account keeping in the community network.

In addition to all these initiatives, I read this in the newspaper whilst in Kerala recently – so one more thing to add!

Stop press:  The Hindu 14.1.18

“Vigilant groups to be extended to all wards.

 In its latest move for the protection of women and children, vigilant groups constituted by Kudumbashree mission will be extended to all wards in the state.  Of the nearly 20,000 wards in Kerala the vigilant groups have been constituted in 15,000 wards.   An activity group will ensure immediate intervention to prevent violence against women and children.  Each vigilant ward group will have 5-10 members forming part of a national mission for empowerment of women with support from the social justice department and Janmaithri police*……………..”

            *Pink Beat is a Kerala initiative by the state  police department that will encourage women to seek help

    rather than be reluctant to approach a male officer.  It has been set up for enhancing the safety

    of women and children in public places.  Patrols will be present at bus stops, schools, colleges etc.

Their role is to:   a) ensure reserved seats on public transport for women and the physically challenged are not

misused by the general public  b) shut down any avenue of eve-teasing or molestation threats.    c)  assist children and passengers with physical disabilities to reach their destination.


Critics of Kudumbashree say it needs to consolidate its strengths and work on its weaknesses, but the impressive list above, shows there is definitely a bright future for properly managed Kudumbashree units.

Kerala Crafts is currently establishing a link with Marari, a company owned by Kudumbashree Neighbourhood Groups  – a social enterprise established in 2003 to support rural women in Kerala.  They make food products,

beverages, hygiene products and umbrellas.

Posted in Fair Trade


This year, in 2018, International Women’s Day falls on Thursday 8th March, towards the end of Fairtrade Fortnight (26 February-11 March with the title “Come On In To Fairtrade”). Let’s take a look at how this inspiring annual event started off!

The 2018 topic is #Pressforprogress and focuses on working towards gender parity for women. The World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report suggests that gender parity is over 200 years away, and the need for progress is as strong as ever. International Women’s Day belongs to all groups collectively, whether women from companies, charities, educational institutions, associations, government and more, and is celebrated by worldwide events and awareness raising whether this is through a Conference, a community gathering, a coffee morning or a chat.

The first IWD was in 1911 and started by the Suffragettes. It has always been a global day to celebrate the social, cultural and political achievements of women and to promote gender parity. Over 1oo years later, it is still a powerful platform with a unifying drive for action. The colours linked with it have varied over time (this year the key colour is ultra violet) and have been linked with those of the Women’s Social and Political Union UK 1908: purple stood for justice and dignity; green for hope; white for purity  – although this is now considered a controversial concept – and yellow for a new dawn.

The values that have guided and continue to guide the movement have a lot in common with The World Fair Trade Organisation 6th Fair Trade Principle which promotes “No discrimination, gender equity and freedom of association”. They are: justice, dignity, hope, equality, collaboration, tenacity, appreciation, respect, empathy, and forgiveness. Let’s see plenty of that in evidence in events on IWD this coming 8th March 2018!

Early C20th Hammersmith WSPU banner with colours green, white and purple

Early C20th Hammersmith WSPU banner with colours green, white and purple

Posted in Fair Trade

TARA PROJECTS – visit by Hazel Dobson and Rachel Farey November 2017

In November 2017, Hazel Dobson, Manager of Gateway World Shop in Durham, went to the WFTO Biennial Conference in Delhi, and teamed up with Rachel Farey of One World Shop, who was also representing the Scottish Fair Trade Forum. Before the actual Conference took place, they visited several producers, one of which was Tara Projects, a WFTO Guaranteed Member organisation. Here I have condensed some information from Tara’s latest Newsletter to provide you with more information on how they operate as a fair trade concern.

TARA supports many capacity-building programs, such as producer workshops; raising awareness of hygiene with members of the community who suffer from cerebral palsy and disabilities; exploring fair marketing opportunities to support small farmers, and they too attended and helped co-organise the WFTO Biennial Conference with the Fair Trade fraternity in India.

You may (or may not) know that TARA projects stands for Trade Alternative Reform Action Projects, whose mission according to its website is as follows:

“…to practice fairness in its production and trading activities for the development of the grassroots and the other marginalised sections of society, using capacity building towards continuously improving its performance while ensuring social equity and environmental sustainability. It is committed to following the fair trade standards developed by WFTO.”

DSC2386-Kopie-800x600 (1)

It works with such producer groups as “Mahila Vikas Samooh” (see  image to the left from TARA website) a women’s Development Group in Bawana, New Delhi. TARA projects initiated a livelihood generation programme and a tailoring centre for the young women in the slum community, plus a free tuition centre for underprivileged children. Due to the government polices, the slums had been demolished and, regarding a relocation of the people, 18 yards of land were given to each slum dweller on the out skirts of the city. The women now produce artificial jewellery. Over time the organization provided further training in designing to improve the skills of the artisans and therefore the quality of the products. The group started with seven women. Now it has reached nineteen women, who work jointly in the direction of economic empowerment. Today are more aware and economically better off than before.

TAJA-8-42-800x500They also work with producer group Taja 8, in Pataudi, Haryana, where beadwork is again produced (see image above, right from TARA website). Pataudi is a small town in the state of Haryana. It is 60 kilometres away from the west of Delhi. Before the English came, the town was ruled by the feudal ruler family of Nawab of Pataudi. During those times he ruled 52 villages surrounding Pataudi town.

He also built his palace there.  The times changed and the rulers lost their power, glory and territory. But the name of Pataudi still remains. The population of Pataudi consists of both Muslims and Hindu communities. They have always lived in peace here. The Nawab still owns agricultural land in Pataudi and the area around, and lends the land to very small farmers on Ugahi (yearly contract basis).

Posted in Uncategorized

Dundee Ethical Christmas Fair Caird Hall Official Launch 5th Dec 2017


This is the second year that Kathryn has been invited to speak at the Official Launch of the Dundee Ethical Christmas Fair, invited by Tania Pramschufer, Director of Hand Up Events This Edinburgh-based concern is a social action events company, which creates positive cultural exchange events such as markets, fashion shows, conferences and festivals. Their largest area of work is supporting fair and ethical trade, in well-attended locations, which attract exhibitors from across the globe. Kathryn has so far represented BAFTS visiting their Ethical and Fair Trade stalls on the (Edinburgh) Fringe in the Summer of 2016, at their 2016 Ethical Christmas Fair Official Launch, and at their FASHIONable event timed to coincide with World Fair Trade Day 2017 alongside able-bodied and less-able bodied models showing off fair trade, local, upcycled and ethical fashion at its best!

Once again she was thrilled to head up to Dundee to participate in an event showcasing a wonderfully eclectic mixture of stalls, both local, ethical, national, international, and fair trade, and including some BAFTS members such as Lumina Jewellery, Zuri Design, and Blue Llama (regular attendees). Others who exhibited were Fair Trade Scotland with sumptuous fair trade tartan produced in Cambodia by WFTO producers, regular visitors from abroad such as Dorostel International, and Sanyo Crafts, from Kenya; local food stalls, local artists and craftspeople, Dundee Fair trade Forum, and a wide selection of gin sellers!

This year we also had the good fortune of having Fair trade ambassador and prominent TV presenter/ journalist Gail Porter attending the Launch, alongside the Lord Provost; Lou Marshall, female piper extraordinaire; and erstwhile brickie turned internationally renowned Scottish tenor Martin Aelred, who is the Dalai Lama’s favourite opera singer. Martin Rhodes from the Scottish Fair Trade Forum stayed a few hours, Sarah Craig, Dundee’s City Markets Manager was in attendance; Tania’s assistant Olga, Tommy the photographer and two sets of TV cameras! It was an honour to be able to represent BAFTS alongside such celebrities and key fair trade supporters. (Below pic L to R Scottish Piper Lou Marshall, Gail Porter, Sarah Craig, Dundee City markets Manager, Kathryn, BAFTS’ Executive Officer).


Bang on 12 noon, the Launch started with singing and piping in front of the Marquis, then we paraded in with Santa, and Tania officially opened the event, welcoming dignitaries and supporters, followed by Gail Porter enthusing and delighting the crowd; Dundee City Council representatives explaining their involvement and commitment; Martin Rhodes from Scottish Fair Trade Forum, Eve Broadis from Fair Trade Scotland, and myself, all introducing ourselves and the organisations or businesses which we represented. Martin Aelred serenaded the crowd which of course went down wonderfully to round off the opening celebrations. Then there were lots of photographs and camera crews ready to talk to Tania who was delighted with the media coverage.

There was an opportunity to talk to current BAFTS members and ask what we could continue doing for them, and look for potential new members, whilst allowing shoppers to browse freely. There are quite a few stalls which have some fair trade lines, some organic, some ethical and so it provides an opportunity to chat and find out more about some other businesses and their stock. The event was well attended for the Launch and hopefully will continue to be until it finishes on 23rd December. For more information go to the website above under the header “Dundee Christmas Market”. This wonderful short video from Ethical TV sums up the festive atmosphere on the Launch day!

Posted in Fair Trade
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