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Every time a person in Wales buys fair trade….pt 5

Our Outreach Worker Aled writes:

September brings a period of reflection. Having enjoyed the relative lull the summer provides, the back to school messages in shops and all over social media reminds us that it’s time to change gear and prepare for a busy few months that will (dare I say it?) take us to Christmas.

As I look back on what we’ve achieved so far with our research project, I feel incredibly satisfied. We set out to communicate fair trade in a different way, so that we could gain an understanding of how each individual purchase contributes to the transformation of communities across Africa. By April, that stage of the project was complete and we’d collected a range of case studies that do just that.

Since May, we’ve been sharing the findings of the research with people of all ages and backgrounds, hoping to inspire them to continue their support for fair trade or make that switch. The feedback has been very positive, with people fascinated to learn that 55 people drinking one cup of coffee a day could sustain a fair trade coffee farmer in Uganda, or buying one greeting card could pay for 1kw of electricity for a card-maker in Rwanda. The result of this is an increase in sales of products from partners featured in the research, which means we are having an even greater impact on the lives of the people who produced them.

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We’ve also been laying the groundwork for the next 6 months. Obviously, the core element of the project is reaching as many people as possible with the message that fair trade is changing lives in Africa! In the coming weeks, we’ll be visiting several schools, churches and community groups – it’s very encouraging to see that schools in particular are still very keen to learn about fair trade. We now have a motivated team of volunteer speakers who will help us spread the message even wider – they cannot wait to get started! The template for the presentation we use at speaking engagements is available for anyone to download on the new Project page on our website.

Maybe the most ambitious part of the project is encouraging businesses and workplaces to commit to supporting fair trade. They can do this by ensuring fair trade products are available in the staff room or they could have a stall selling fair trade goods. We’ve been working with Fair Trade Wales so that we can support each other deliver this goal. It’s early days, but we’re optimistic that businesses and workplaces are keen to engage with us.

We’re also hoping to bring those involved in selling and promoting fair trade products from across Wales closer together by creating a network for retailers, wholesalers and stockists. The aim is to create a platform where we can support and learn from one another so that we can change even more lives. We’ll soon be contacting those we know to be supporters of fair trade inviting them to join such a network.

And finally, we’re investigating how we can support one of the partners featured in the research to become sustainable in the long-term. Denur Crafts currently employs 38 women in Kenya and has helped pay for the education of 86 children, but it is completely reliant on its founder, Leah Mitula, to run the business. We want to ensure the work of Denur Crafts continues to provide meaningful employment to women in Kenya and see even more children receive an education.

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Based on the research, children’s education is often a priority for fair trade producers. While we may take our children’s education for granted, education can be one of the biggest expenses parents in Africa will face – fees, uniforms, books and stationery take a considerable chunk of parents’ outgoings. As we reflect on the start of another school year and what that means for us and our children, remember that fair trade is helping to pay for the education of children across the world.

If you can support our project or would like to get involved in any way, please email aled@fairdos.com

WAG