Abergavenny Shared Learning Event with Fair Trade Wales & Hub Cymru Africa


I attended this afternoon event, having been invited to speak on behalf of BAFTS by Aileen Burmeister, Programme Manager at Fair Trade Wales, and Liz Rees, Grants Support Officer from Hub Cymru Africa. Aileen joined Fair Trade Wales after three years in the third sector, working on Wales-wide projects and events for Citizens Advice Cymru. Since completing her degree in International Politics, Aileen has been involved with two local Fair Trade groups in Wales, in Aberystwyth and Cardiff, with an understanding of different groups and geographies in Wales. Liz deals with Hub Cymru Africa’s grants scheme which enables individuals, community groups and organisations throughout Wales to access funding for small-scale Wales-Africa projects. Up to £180,000 is available per year, including an annual minimum of £50,000 for health activities involving the Welsh NHS or Public Health Wales. Funding is allocated under four thematic areas: Health, Sustainable Livelihoods, Lifelong Learning, Climate Change and Environment. The invited participants were Eighteen Rabbit, Fair Dos, Ananuca, Tools For Africa, Love Zimbabwe, and Sarah’s Coffee and the event was held at Abergavenny Community Centre.

The purpose of the event was to invite representatives from groups and organisations (mainly fair trade shops, suppliers or trading arms of charities) to look at how best to support fair trade producers. Three of the organisations represented were BAFTS members, and the other three were not. One of those did not currently use fairly-traded products but was hoping to. The main aims of the event were to bring together organisations and businesses based in Wales, and (wanting to be) involved in fair trade, plus better understanding of fair trade, and networking. The image below shows (L to R) Liz Rees, myself, and Aileen Burmeister in the Abergavenny Community Centre setting up for the event.


After an initial introduction, I spoke about BAFTS, what we do and offer as a membership organisation, explained the differences between fair trade versus FAIRTRADE, and conventional trade, then looked at some of the challenges currently facing both wholesalers and retailers – Brexit, increased exchange rates, the costs of suppliers being passed on to a degree to shops, and therefore shops’ customers, plus the challenging nature of high street retail. I then expanded on some adaptations in light of the current climate which BAFTS has made as a result eg accepting a wider bracket of fair trade certifications used by suppliers which serve our shops, and which we feel are equally rigorous but offer flexibility for members and applicants; and reducing the percentage of fairly-traded goods required by our shops to 60% which is still fully in line with the criteria laid down by WFTO, of which BAFTS is a member. We of course keep a close eye of the remaining percentage to ensure that diversity into eg environmental, green or local products is still appropriate.

Eighteen Rabbit (below) then spoke on product design, and explained that they were a business, not a not-for-profit organisation like many of the other attendees, and that they were based in Hay-on-Wye. As a fair trade retailer, they felt that unique products, packaging and presentation were key – such as their animals made from flip flops, although others questioned whether the use of packaging, either at all or if it wasn’t fairly-traded, was appropriate plus raised the difficult question of the poor reputation of some courier companies and how that should be approached if we are aiming to show fairness towards workers in UK businesses too. Many felt that educating artisans on designs eg animals they had never seen, such as dragons and badgers, could be tricky and did sometimes lead to quality control issues.


Martha from BAFTS’ member organisation Love Zimbabwe was keen to promote the 11th Wales Fair Trade Festival which took place on 7/8th October. She stated that she had started as a charity initially, and struggled to find places to sell her goods. She goes into schools and finds that school fairs are good places to sell her products. Glastonbury had not worked for her. She goes for ethically-minded markets, where products from Zimbabwe tend to sell themselves. She is so relieved personally to have had the chance to come out of poverty that fair trade is close to her heart. There is no internet or markets there. She has had students experience the poverty in Zimbabwe first hand, so they can now be her voice piece and do talks on the producers. When she travels back to Zimbabwe, the places she goes to can be violent and risky. Changing lives can be hard, as she often buys goods out of pity, whilst not being certain if they will actually sell.

Liz from Hub Cmyru Africa talked about future proofing organisations to minimise the effects of shocks and stresses in future events. Sustainable organisations needed clear goals, succession planning, clear monitoring and evaluation systems, compliance with national and local regulations, strong partnerships and they need to engage with the community, plus employ a full range of markets. Strong partnerships need to be collaborative with mutual understanding, trust, equality and with a specific goal. Community ownership must be ongoing, cumulative, and enable all to participate, not just the leaders, Succession planning needs to be implemented early, with shared responsibility and tasks, key skills, and look forward with new strategies.

Networking revolved around mainly looking at setting up a Wales Fair Trade Regional Network including both BAFTS and non-BAFTS members to help shops share ideas in difficult times.

Posted in Fair Trade

Write-up of Future Learn course “Who Made My Clothes” over three weeks

The PDF version of this article written by Kathryn is Who Made My Clothes three week complete writeup The free three week course was run by Future Learn with lots of support materials from Fashion Revolution and was facilitated by Course managers from the University of Exeter.


Posted in Fair Trade

Meeting Namaste supplier from Kathmandu, Nepal

Namaste’s Open Week gave me the chance to meet Jhaindra Ghimire, Owner of a Nepalese fair trade garment and accessories business based in Kathmandu. Jhaindra has a University education and an MBA. His business joined Fair Trade Group Nepal as he wanted it to not just be for profit, but also to have a social purpose and there were like-minded organisations in this group (currently 21 members). Having the chance to talk to him opened my eyes to the caste system in Nepal and to the many hardships which some people are likely to endure. He explained that a lot of rebuilding had taken place in Kathmandu after the 2015 earthquakes, but not in the outlying areas. His own factory had collapsed but he had managed to sort some makeshift cover for his employees in the short term.


Namaste helped this supplier in its first few years in business with an interest-free loan of £20,000 to rent a workshop and buy machinery. Jhaindra now employs around 110 people, of which about 70 are Kamalaries, ie young women originally sold at the age of 6 or 7 to richer families as slaves, and originating from one of the lower castes, that of the Tharu who inhabit the mid- Western area of Nepal. These people tend to be honest, hard working, subsistence farmers, but can never afford to earn enough to keep their families or provide them with an education. Jhaindra told of how some of these girls needed rescuing by an NGO, the Friends of Needy Children, itself quite a dangerous task, as bonded labour is now illegal in Nepal, but the families will have paid the parents for the arrangement and will not have expected them to be taken away.

His employees receive much more than the minimum wage of about £80 (8100 Nepalese rupees) per month set by the government and Labour Unions, and receive training to help them progress through tasks. They also get 52 days’ holidays, bonuses, sick leave, and are provided with their uniform. There are also scholarship programmes for workers’ children and other social welfare programmes such as economic support to orphanages.


Kamalari girls are often involved in sewing, earning about double the minimum wage, although this task has posed problems at times with labelling, as they arrive illiterate and do not understand the wording used. Jhaindra explained that he has workers who sew, stitch, pack, process, pattern cutters who are very precise and are paid the most (up to 55,000 Nepalese rupees), and teachers who pass on skills and training.

When some of the Kamalari girls were rescued and returned to their families, trainers went to teach them skills to enable them to start employment. Jhaindra visited their families who spoke of the differences this had made to their lives. The girls are now housed in dormitories near the workplace. Jhaindra explained that there are four main castes in Nepal: Brahmin (educated classes), Kshatriya (fighters), Vaishya (workers), and Sudra (manual workers). Generally speaking, castes marry into their own caste, but attitudes are changing. Certain roles, and jobs are expected of certain castes. At times he himself is surprised at what some of the Kamalari girls can achieve with the correct training.

Of his fair trade business, Jhaindra stated: “I want to illustrate that our main aim, as well as running on a profit basis, is to extend our maximum effort to accommodating mainly the economically marginalized people by providing them with extra support, which may increase their quality of life”. Personally I cannot think of a better way to sum up what fair trade is meant to embody.

Posted in Fair Trade

BAFTS Annual Conference 21/22 May Priory Street Centre York – a brief version

It is getting on towards three weeks since we held our Annual Conference in the Priory Street Centre York and in all fairness it was probably our best to date. A lot of hard work had gone into ensuring a balance of speakers, workshops, resolutions, and evening entertainment, with something for our retailers, suppliers and visitors.

The Saturday afternoon was busy with getting rooms set up as far as possible, and Sunday morning started with getting the layout right, checking equipment, deciding which workshops would be where, and welcoming attendees for the start at 11.30am. Following an introduction from outgoing Chair, Joanna Pollard, we started with browsing stalls from about a dozen suppliers, and heard three moving accounts of supplier stories from Just Trade (UK) Ltd, York Scarves and Fair Grounds, then a video from Goodweave which had specially been shaped for our Conference. After lunch we heard from Heather Masoud (Zaytoun) about how fair trade is helping producers and farmers in Palestine; from Carol Wills about various types of certification including the WFTO Guarantee System; and went on to split into three workshops on different topics – Window and shop display for retailers, Monitoring your Suppliers, and Importing from Africa, all held by different members of BAFTS. More supplier stall browsing, networking followed, then an evening meal and a quiz, bingo and  a relaxed evening.


DAbtjCoXgAAqwLhThe Monday started with more stall browsing, another four moving and important supplier talks on how they are helping improve producers’ lives -from Zuza Trading, Enfair, Neema Crafts, and Picaflor. This was followed by a much-awaited talk from Emilie Schultze of Traidcraft about the effect of Brexit on producers across the developing world; then we heard from Amanda Galliano, Business Development Manager at Liberation Nuts on their progress as a Fair Trade Company.

Lunch was followed by an excellent talk by Bruce Crowther on Grassroots fair trade Campaigning, which led us onto the formal AGM itself. Joanna Pollard sadly stepped down as Chair, and we welcomed Laura Cave to the Board in a non-named capacity. The main resolutions which were passed, revolve around BAFTS accepting a few more certification systems than it previously did to form part of the 70% fairly-traded goods (now 60% for shops only) which all our members (except “Associate members”) have to carry from certain specified sources. These used to be solely from BAFTS’ suppliers, WFTO, or FLO marked products and now also include Goodweave certified products (see website above), those from Fair for Life, and from WFTO Networks in the Global South.

Our Fee structure was also voted to alter slightly and these changes which come into force from 1st July 2017 can be seen on our Join BAFTS page.

As he left, Bruce Crowther, one of the founders of fair trade in that he worked to get the first ever fairtrade status for Garstang, said that he was going away inspired, so we reckon that is the icing on the cake for our Conference!!


Posted in Fair Trade

Draft Agenda and Tickets ready for BAFTS 2017 Annual Conference

We are delighted to announce the draft Agenda for our Annual Conference 2017 to all our readers, as well as the ticketing for this event via Eventbrite. The location is Priory Street Centre York and we will be joined on the Sunday evening by members of York Fair Trade Forum.

Hotels in York; Travel & Parking; Map and Location 
The venue is situated quite centrally, about 10 minutes walk from York Railway Station. It’s quite a pleasant walk (see map below). Coming by train is a good option, as the venue doesn’t have much parking directly in its grounds and parking in York is expensive generally. The venue address is 15 Priory Street, York, YO1 6ET. Tel: 01904 621133. All rooms are on the ground floor with available access for everyone. You can access a map of the area here.

Hotels have booked up quickly in the Centre of York, and it is not possible to suggest any outright. There are still some reasonably priced ones but you are advised to book very soon. Parking costs can be eased by choosing a spot and pre-booking eg via Just Park or Your Parking Space (short-term parking) where D is in Priory Street itself and can be pre-booked. Such websites have maps to enable you to work out how far you are from Priory Street itself.

You can use one of the 6 Park and Ride facilities around York and cheaper hotels in these outlying areas, depending upon which day(s) you are attending and where you are coming from. All services stop at or near to the railway station. Journeys take about 15 minutes to the City Centre. However, it seems gates are locked at 18.30 on Sundays, which is no good if you are staying for food and entertainment on the Sunday night. Parking near the venue is £2 between 6pm and 8am.

As regards booking tickets, if you are a member of the BAFTS’ Board or an invited outside speaker, you do not need to fill in a ticket for attending. Attendance is free to all, members and non-members alike. Costings including a small administration fee* from Eventbrite are based on meals required. There are five different ticketing options from £5-£15* (fee additional) depending upon which meals you intend to take on which days. There will be vegetarian food available, and you need only let our Executive Officer, Kathryn, know if you require vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free or if you have  specific allergies or other dietary requirements on membershipsupport@bafts.org.uk

Please note that the Agenda is still subject to change, although we hope to keep these to a minimum. Closer to the time, there will be a cut-off for meals as we will need to advise the caterers of numbers.


Sunday timetable 21st May 2017 

9am -10.30am stalls arrive and set-up ready for 10.30.

10.30 – 11.30 arrival, coffee, tea & supplier stall browsing

Exhibiting suppliers Sunday/ Monday: Traidcraft, Zuza Trading, Enfair, Zuri Design, York Scarves, Fair Grounds, Neema Crafts, Dalit Goods Company, AURA QUE, Just Trade (UK) Limited, Mixy Fandino, Kaligarh, Fair Connections.

11.30-11.40 Official welcome and order of the day

11.40-12.45 Supplier stories: three suppliers take 15 minutes to tell the story of how their work is impacting producers including a short video about the Goodweave mark.

12.45-13.45 Buffet lunch provided by El Piano.

13.45-14.30 Heather Masoud (Zaytoun) Talk on successes that Zaytoun have had eg Social Enterprise of the Year Award, new Fairtrade products coming, and how their model of trade is helping Palestinian farmers.

14.30-15.10  Carol Wills. Former BAFTS Chair, Honorary WFTO member, Voluntary Coordinator of Revised WFTO Guarantee System: Presentation on WFTO Guarantee System then Q/A

15.10-15.40 Tea and coffee break

15.40-16.45  Choice of one of three workshops to meet your needs:

                      Workshop One: Window and shop display - Silvia Rizzoli (RISC World Shop) & Daniella Cromwell     (Fair Trade at St. Michael’s, Oxford)

                      Workshop Two: Monitoring your producers: Laura Cave (Just Trade UK Ltd)

                       Workshop Three: Importing from Africa: JTS (Liam McLaughlin) with Claire                                               Shepherd Zuzu Trading; and Susan Tomes Neema Crafts.

16.45- 17.45 informal time for networking & browsing stalls.

18.00-19.00 evening meal.

19.00-21.00 - entertainment/dance workshop:Ahmed Masoud to read from his book “Vanished” and lead Palestinian dabke dancing Informal time for browsing


Monday timetable 22nd May 2017 

9.00 – 10.00 Supplier stalls open, tea, coffee & informal networking Additional exhibiting supplier: Picaflor

10.00 – 11.00 four supplier stories each talk for 15 minutes about the impact their work has on producers

11.00 – 11.45 Traidcraft talk by Emilie Schultze Campaigns Officer on the effect of Brexit on producers

Toilet break 11.45-11.50

11.50-12.30 Liberation Nuts talk by Amanda Galliano Business Development Manager on their progress as a Fair Trade Company 

12.30-13.30 lunch provided by Yourcafe, York

13.30-14.30 talk by Bruce Crowther (The FIG Tree Lancaster/former International fair Trade Towns Ambassador) on “Local fair trade Campaigning”  

14.30 -15.00 Discussion on Resolutions

15.00 BAFTS 2017 AGM

16.00-16.30 Close

Posted in Fair Trade

Fairtrade Fortnight kicks off with APPG Fairtrade Break in Westminster (J Pollard)

It’s Fairtrade Fortnight, the busiest time of the year for fair trade campaigners, and this is the first Fairtrade Fortnight since the referendum result of June 2016 which will fundamentally change the way UK businesses trade with the rest of the world.

Because nothing is yet decided about what Brexit will actually look like, now is a good opportunity to lobby decision makers in Parliament and help make the case for a fair deal for the developing world. While currency fluctuations have made life extremely difficult for all our members who deal direct, and it’s inevitable that costs will have to be passed on to shops and then to customers, perhaps the more long term consequence of Brexit will be the tariff and non-tariff barriers the UK chooses to apply to imports. The EU has always had a tendency to be protectionist and there is an opportunity for trade deals to be struck which help developing world producers access the UK market.

It was in this positive mood that I met with a group of campaigners from across the UK on Tuesday. We met for lunch at the impressive Westminster Central Methodist Hall and as well as getting to know some of the other representatives of Fair Trade groups I managed to catch up with old friends including Elen Jones from Fairtrade Wales and Adam Gardner from the Fairtrade Foundation – both of whom have spoken at BAFTS Conferences.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Fairtrade was set up during last year’s Fairtrade Fortnight after strong lobbying from Holmfirth based FairandFunky whose work on fair trade education is inspirational. It is chaired by Holly Lynch and Jason McCartney, MPs with neighbouring constituencies but from opposite sides of the house. The event was hosted jointly by the Fairtrade Foundation and the APPG as an opportunity for campaigners from the UK’s nations and regions to speak directly to Parliamentarians about our experience of fair trade and how we can work together to support fair trade. Tim Aldred, the Head of Policy at the Fairtrade Foundation, briefed campaigners in advance explaining that the main message for Parliamentarians was “Don’t feed exploitation”. Most of you have already seen the hard hitting video the Foundation has made featuring actors playing child labourers delivering cheap food into British homes. So-called negative campaigning is controversial within fair trade, but I certainly feel that it is impossible to sell the message that fair trade can make a difference until consumers have a real understanding of what unfair, conventional trade really involves.

The positive message in favour of Fairtrade was to be delivered by Tanzanian coffee farmer Leonard Kachebonaho who talked about the impact that the Fairtrade premium has made in his community. He talked about schools, healthcare and improved agricultural practices but the most important thing to him was the fact that Fairtrade gives his community the choice of what to prioritise for investment. Fair trade puts people first and it is vital that producers and farmers like Leonard are able to come and tell their own stories in person. Several of the campaigners I spoke to had experienced last-minute visa issues with producers and Fairtrade Fortnight events have had to be changed. This is an important issue and Zaytoun are asking us to help raise awareness using the hashtag #NoVisaNoTrade.

Minister for International Development Rory Stewart MP spoke convincingly from his considerable experience in the developing world. He talked about the Government’s long term commitment to fair trade (£20million over 5 years) and his belief that fair trade is key to long term poverty reduction.  I felt that he had a real understanding of the issues surrounding fair trade and hope he is able to represent the case for fair trade in his department.

The event gave an opportunity to the Co-op to showcase their new policy on Fairtrade. The Co-op has committed to source 100% Fairtrade cocoa in all its own brand products from May 2017. This includes obvious things like biscuits, cake and chocolate bars, but also includes chocolate sprinkles on doughnuts and even cocoa used in fish finger batter to give a darker colour. In recent years the Co-op has struggled to survive and define itself in the fast moving grocery sector and it is fantastic to see how central Fairtrade is becoming in its plans. MPs were given the opportunity to take away free samples of new Co-op ranges of Fairtrade chocolate, biscuits and pink sparkling wine.

The event was attended by 45 MPs from four parties – Conservative, Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrat. Traidcraft‘s

Joanna Pollard (middle, Chair of BAFTS) speaking to Christopher from Northern Ireland Fair Trade Nation Campaign

Joanna Pollard (middle, Chair of BAFTS) speaking to Christopher from Northern Ireland Fair Trade Nation Campaign

stall at the event was extremely popular with MPs taking away their leaflets outlining the dangers and possibilities posed to fair trade by Brexit. I heard one SNP MP pledge to lobby the catering department at Westminster to serve Fairtrade wine as it is already available at the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. He also mentioned BAFTS member JTS as a shining example of how fair trade is a force for good.

One conversation in particular I found interesting: a researcher from the APPG on Landmines and Unexploded Weapons of Conflict had come along to find out how fair trade could help farmers in Angola and Mozambique. Once the landmines are removed, it is important that the land is used to grow crops and support local communities and he saw Fairtrade as a way forward for people living in areas where unexploded ordnance presents a present danger.

I came away feeling that there is strong support for fair trade among our representatives at Parliament and the grassroots campaigners remain committed to helping tell producer stories and promote the benefits. There is still reason to be nervous about the result of Brexit negotiations but there is a future for fair trade while we are working together to make it happen.

Posted in Fair Trade

The Plight of Women and Girls in India – Fairtrade Fortnight 2017 (Christine Snow)

We are delighted to bring you this article written by Christine Snow, of BAFTS’ supplier Kerala Crafts, about the plight of women and girls in India, to focus our minds leading up to Fairtrade Fortnight 27 February-12 March.


It is estimated that more than 85% of females in India are regarded as non-workers, thereby totally financially dependent on others.  Since women tend to live longer, and in the main stay at home, they are an easy target for abuse of all kinds.  So for many women life is hard and unfair.

Discrimination of females starts in the womb.  Though the results of scans revealing the gender of the child is forbidden, so as not to encourage abortion, this is often ignored.  There are many contributing factors as to why parents do not desire daughters, but the key factor is the provision of a dowry on the occasion of a daughter’s marriage.

When I first visited Kerala, I was often asked the question ‘What children do you have?’ and my answer of ‘3 daughters’, brought expressions of pity which said it all. This ‘downer’ on girls is often carried into childhood.  Whereas boys will be offered the best food as they are seen to be more deserving (bringing the benefits from their schooling into a wage-earning job), girls often receive inadequate nutrition as they will eventually be another family’s responsibility once they are married.

A woman’s place is traditionally seen to be in the home.  Educating a girl is broadly seen as a waste of time, when she could be working or carrying out domestic duties instead.  Encouragingly, there are social sector programmes eg ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ (Education for Everyone) which actively promotes education for girls to equalise educational opportunities and eliminate gender disparities, but these initiatives will take time to have a lasting effect.

Everywhere one turns in India, it’s women you will see hard at work – on construction sites, in fields, sowing paddy, in vegetable and fruit markets, in factories and homes, working tirelessly.  However, marriage, even a bad one, is seen as providing a certain amount of security and safety to women.

Kerala Crafts employs marginalised women and pays them a higher than average wage, which apart from all the benefits of fair-trade, also gives them some independence and a feeling of self-worth.  Women now have many opportunities and a voice in everyday life, but India is still a male-dominated society.  Working for Kerala Crafts offers women of all ages, castes and religions an ‘escape route’.  It is an opportunity to work in a good environment where the quality of their workmanship is appreciated and is reflected in the wages paid.  Just as importantly, they find a place to be themselves and share their problems.


The practice of hiding personal feelings pervades Indian culture where women frequently pretend everything is fine, where negativities are played down, so as to keep up a good image and standing for the acceptance of their family in society.  Therefore, their true potential is often denied as they are taught to ‘not own’ themselves.


Poor families on low wages, means poor standards of living.  They cannot afford education for their children and so the children are required to work to help with family finances.  A mother’s illiteracy and lack of education has a direct negative effect on her children.  With limited education mothers are less likely to adopt health-promoting opportunities such as child immunisation.  Malnutrition is inevitable with little money for nourishing food, and statistics show increased baby/child mortality amongst this group.

Child homelessness is a tragic symptom of a range of often interlinked causes.  Children may end up on the streets as they may have no choice.  India is home to the world’s largest population of street children.  UNICEF estimates that there are some 11 million children living on the streets at any one time.  They are abandoned, orphaned or disowned by their parents.  They may choose to live on the streets because of abuse, mistreatment or neglect or because their homes do not or cannot provide them with basic necessities.

Other factors include famine, natural and man-made disasters and displacement due to armed conflict.  With the continued growth of the Indian economy, migration of families to urban areas in search of a better life has also contributed to this problem, as has overcrowding in these urban areas.  The result is that street children live in extremely dangerous and horrific conditions.

They are usually malnourished with limited to no access to medical treatment.  On the street they receive no education.  India has the highest number of ‘out of school’ children in the world, and some 39% of children do not make it past grade 5 (age 10).  In the cities these children often turn to begging.  In more rural areas they become child labourers on farms or alongside their parents in other agricultural labour.2887605_orig

Marginalised by society, some children turn to drug and alcohol abuse or crime, whilst others are forced into prostitution or are physically and sexually abused.  Watching the film ‘Lion’ recently, a powerful and emotional true story, reminded me of some of our girls from the orphanage we support, one of whom was put on a train by her family and abandoned. Much of the work of Childline in India is working with children found on stations

S. was just 5 when she was left on a train by her stepmother, who was furious because the child’s employer complained about her!  After long and tedious journeys on different trains and experiencing much trauma, she found herself on the station platform in Kochi.  The railway police took her to Valsalya Bhavan (the orphanage we support), to be cared for and protected.  That was in 2002, and she has now been adopted by a loving family in Hyderabad.

Another of our girls R. was sold to a family for Rs100 (£1.18) to work as a servant, but who was then sold on again for a higher price.  She was forced to work in the family house, but was locked in a dog kennel when the family went out.  Yet another is B. whose sister became pregnant by their father (now in prison), but has now turned her life around, thanks to the orphanage.  The deep traumas that many of the girls have experienced, makes living a ‘normal’ life very difficult.  These personal stories are not the exception, they are the norm.  All the girls have similar stories in their past – often too painful to speak of.

Fortunately the love and nurturing at the orphanage goes some way to creating a stable childhood for the girls.  They have opportunities that they would never have experienced if they had stayed within their family.  When I visit, it is a joy to see them joining in with the extra-curricular activities, such as dance, gardening, sport and outings as well as the basics of education, homework and a share in the chores.  This is equipping them to be self-reliant when they leave the relative safety of the orphanage.


By supporting mothers through fair-trade employment, it enables children to receive an education – the key to step out of poverty.  Mums can afford to send their children to school and avoid intergenerational cycles of poverty that exploits children, and thus enables improved long-term prospects for their children.  Fairtrade values people and communities, opening up access to education, medical services and a higher quality of life.

The greatest way fairtrade can make an impact is through consumers.  Consumers yield a unique power to reduce exploitation around the world.  So when consumers demand ‘free from’ child labour and exploitation, companies will listen.

Kerala Crafts is not lining the pockets of big corporations or sweat shops.  It’s providing a fair wage for people who need it most, mainly small women’s co-operatives and the suppliers in the Kudumbashree schemes.  Kerala Crafts relies entirely on volunteers to manage it, and the small profit is sent back to support community projects and the orphanage.

For more information on the orphanage please see http://www.keralacrafts.co.uk/valsalya-bhavan.html


  1. What price do you put on having running water available to you, rather than spending your day  walking back and forth to public taps?

2. How much would it be worth to know your children can go to school for free?

  1. How much would you pay to know you can get a hot meal at your place of work and free school meals are available for your children if needed?
  1. How much would you pay to be able to have an ongoing job with all its benefits?
  1. How much would you pay to visit your doctor or hospital free of charge?
  1. How much is it worth to have a sufficient supply of electricity?

 Empowering women to better the world

Buying fair-trade can help to change whole communities, generations and futures!

Posted in Fair Trade

“Believe You Can” wins Gift of the Year 2017 “Fair trade” Award for Fairy tutus

The past few days have seen our usual visit to Spring Fair to visit as many of our exhibiting suppliers as possible over the space of a day and a half. It was great to see so many vibrant looking fair trade stalls with a huge array of products and on the whole business seemed to be good.

The highlight of the visit was when we got to Louise Birchmore’s stand for her BAFTS’ business Believe You Can which designs a whole host of fairy goods, gifts and accessories and has these made by WFTO-approved Fair Trade producers in India. 50% of their profits support local community welfare projects such as AIDS awareness clinics, an Accident Relief Centre, and two schools. She has been in business for ten years.

WFTO_approved Fair Trade workers in India create Believe You Can's range of fairies

WFT0-approved Fair Trade workers in India create Believe You Can’s range

Louise had already told us that she had applied for the newly-created Fair Trade category of Gift of the Year Award 2017, and knew that she had been short-listed. The Award Ceremony took place on the evening of Sunday 5th February and we were delighted to learn that she had been chosen as the Winner in this category. Her Fair Trade Fairy Tutus were apparently selected because they were not what the judges felt to be a typically fair trade product.

There is quite a lot of kudos goes with winning such an Award. The Gift of the Year website tells us that winners and their products will get:

“Profile-raising media coverage as part of the major PR campaign to the national trade and consumer press; product Endorsement with the acclaimed Gift of the Year status – Winner, Highly Commended or Judges’ Overall Choice; Inclusion in the Gift of the Year catalogue distributed within the UK and overseas; and dedicated Gift of the Year point of sale and marketing material for use at exhibitions and for in store displays.”

We are delighted for Louise and her business, for her producers and for the community of BAFTS as well. Below is Louise with her well-deserved award and her fairy tutus either side of her.


Posted in Fair Trade

Fairtrade Fortnight 2017 “It’s Time To Put Fairtrade In Your Break”

This year, Fairtrade Fortnight fills its usual slot early in the year, and runs from 27 February to 12 March. The theme is “It’s Time to Put Fairtrade In Your Break” and the following extract from the Fairtrade Foundation’s website explains why this Campaign Fortnight is as important as ever:

“The food on our tables, the tea and coffee in our mugs, all from farmers who toil, sweat and slog. However hard they work to provide the things we depend on, millions of farmers in developing countries aren’t paid what they deserve. It’s not a new problem. We need to amplify the voices of marginalised producers as much as ever in 2017.

When we come together we can change the way people think about trade and the products on our shelves – the Fairtrade movement is made up of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in their communities for Fairtrade. Your actions help shoppers to make choices that change the lives of farmers and workers.

Join thousands of others across the UK this Fairtrade Fortnight to help our friends, neighbours, colleagues and communities to put Fairtrade in their break and take exploitation out.”

0000459_the-event-starter-pack_415As Professor Bob Docherty, Professor of Marketing and Principal Investigator of IknowFood (Global Food Security Fund 4-year programme), University of York, writes in his article on How Fairtrade helps level the playing field for small producers, Fairtrade helps provide security for impoverished families and prevent seasonal hunger between harvests by providing longer-term security and a better price; plus the stability of the minimum price can help co-operatives to access finance agreements.

For more information, visit the Fairtrade Foundation website  and look at how you can show your support.


Posted in Fair Trade

BAFTS’ Executive Officer a special guest at opening of Dundee Ethical Xmas Fair

It was a delight to be invited to come and speak on behalf of BAFTS at the Ethical Christmas Fair running in Dundee from 3-18 December and organised by Tania Pramschufer of Hand Up events. The event has usually run in Edinburgh but a change was felt necessary for their 10th Anniversary and Dundee City Square was selected. It brings together fair trade, ethical, international and local stalls and provides a wide selection of different, interesting products in one marquis. BAFTS members Lumina Jewellery and Zuri Design were there, and One World Shop and Hadeel will have stalls later on. Angus Coull from Bala Sport was attending in his capacity as a Director for the Scottish Fair Trade Forum.


Kathryn,our Executive Officer; Angus Coull from Bala Sport in his role as SFTF Director, Margaret Galabe from World Women Fair Trade and Tania Pramschufer, organiser, from Hand Up events.

The official opening took place on Monday 5th December, and included speeches from the Depute Lord Provost of Dundee, Christina Roberts; Margaret Galabe from World Women Fair Trade; myself; representatives of Dundee City Council and Tania herself. Also in attendance was Sally Romilly, Global Learning Advisor from Dundee One World Centre, Green Santa and members of the local Press and television. It was good to be able to promote BAFTS to an audience and show off our banner, plus leave leaflets with Picky from Lumina Jewellery.

I was also able to talk to some other stalls about possible interest in BAFTS, although they were quite busy most of the time. There again, as they had been in the Summer, were two stalls from Kenya: Sarah from Sanyo Crafts, and Dorothy Taro from Dorostel International, and it was good to catch up with them again. There were also stalls from the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, Blue Llama, RSPB, local food outlets, an ethical cafe, a variety of local businesses, Neal’s Yard remedies, and ACTSA . It was a warm friendly festive atmosphere despite being very very cold and it may well be that Tania is looking for more stallholders in the future, including from BAFTS, so watch this space!

To see a whole host of other images please go to our Facebook page uploads and to our Gallery page on this website. You will need to refer back to this article for who is who, as the captions were too long to include!

Posted in Fair Trade
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