Today we celebrate International Women’s Day and we are more than happy to share with you our booklet “Women & Fair Trade”.

It is a short publication featuring 6 of our members: SeeMe, Mifuko, Dece Clothing, esgii, Dassie Artisan and Traidcraft Exchange. In the booklet, you will find who they are, what they do and what impact do they have on their female artisans.

Click on the cover and discover more:

Booklet "Women & Fair Trade"


Please, if you like it, share it with your friends, thank you. 

#PressForProgress #GenderEqualityNow #InternationalWomensDay2018 #FairTrade


We are excited to begin offering subscription to our public newsletter! We aim to publish this newsletter biannual, that is twice a year, in order to avoid overwhelming our subscribers with emails. The content is planned to include: an overview of our recent activities and of those in our network, updates on our members and their initiatives, the latest information on the Fair Trade movement in Europe and around the world, and more. The first issue will go out at the beginning of the new year, so keep an eye out in January!


Subscribe here.

Enriching lives with ethical finance

Nyame Akwan Farms with logo

UK-based, Shared Interest lends money to Fair Trade organisations worldwide. What makes us different is we do not usually require security. This enables us to reach farmers and handcrafters in remote communities, struggling to find finance elsewhere.

We are a Registered Society with 11,000 UK investors providing over £38m. We strive to be a responsible lender, recognised with a Queen’s Award twice, and in 2015 awarded the title of ‘most ethical finance institution working in the fair trade sector.’

Shared Interest currently makes payments to over 400 producer groups across 59 countries. Our main aim is to help smallholder farmers and handcraft groups, and we lend in two ways: directly to fair trade producers and to fair trade wholesale or retail businesses.  We lend to support Fairtrade products such as coffee; fresh fruit, nuts, and cocoa, as well as handcrafts such as weaved baskets and furniture.

We want to do more than provide finance on fair terms. The Fair Trade organisations we finance say that, thanks to our supporters, they have helped transform their communities.  For this reason, we like to keep up to date with issues faced by our customers.  We find that our annual Producer Committee meetings facilitated by in-country staff in Peru, Ivory Coast, and Kenya, give producers the opportunity to discuss common issues and market trends. While it is not in our remit to provide a solution to these problems, sharing experiences can assist organisations in resolving their own issues.

For instance, citrus farming is a growing source of income in Ghana but climate change continues to be a big challenge, with fruit ripening early or crops being lost in their entirety due to the changing rainfall patterns.  Nyame Akwan is a Fairtrade orange producer that is surviving commercially, despite these various setbacks.

Farmers approached Shared Interest for finance in 2015 when fruit flies were causing production losses of up to 40%.  The loan allowed the group to purchase fertilisers for farmers and ultimately increase production volumes. Farm maintenance equipment helped reduce fruit loss to only 10%.

Education also helped improve yields. Previously, harvesting involved manually plucking the fruit with sticks, which led to spoilage. After training, the farmers began to hang wire nets under the trees to catch the oranges.

Thanks to Shared Interest investors, Nyame Akwan is helping over 100 farmers to earn a living.  Chairman Mustapha Akubakar said: “Once our membership reaches 200, we would like to become a co-operative.”

See their website here.

Last Wednesday, the 2nd of August, was calculated as the Earth Overshoot Day (previously known as Ecological Debt Day), which is a specific point of the year when human overall consumption exceeds the capacity of Earth natural resources generated for that particular year. It means that from that day on we, as humans, live on ecological debt for the rest of the year. Of course, this is a debt which  is (almost) impossible to pay.

This year the Earth Overshoot Day came one day earlier than last year, illustrating thus a trend which has existed for decades.

To calculate the exact date, the Global Footprint Network determines Earth´s biocapacity and divides this by the world ecological footprint we have made. The final date is then calculated by multiplying the quotient by number of the days of the year.

The key component for calculation of the Earth Overshoot Day is thus human consumption represented by the world ecological footprint. This is an ecological concept taking into account all human consumption of natural resources and converting it into the number of so called global hectares necessary for securing our needs. This can be calculated for individuals, cities, nations or the whole world. Based on this year’s calculations, current world population would need 1,7 planets to secure its needs for this year (at the current level of consumption).

You can calculate your individual ecological footprint here.

What can we do?

Simply put: we must practice responsible consumption and attempt to reduce our individual ecological footprint. Sometimes little things are enough – using public transport rather than a car, walking more often, turning off the lights, not producing unnecessery waste, or sourcing daily products locally and buying Fair Trade products.

Responsible consumption and production is one of the Sustainable Development Goals introduced by United Nations in 2015 and Respect for the Envrionment is also one of the Ten Principles of Fair Trade used by WFTO. In WFTO-Europe we support producers and organizations which maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges and minimize their impact on the environment. All members of WFTO are comitted to the environement, and it is essential that we work to keep our ecological usage to a minimum.

Member in the Spotlight: Les Jardins de Gaïa

It was in 1994 that Arlette Rohmer set up Les Jardins de Gaïa, guided by her passion for tea, organic farming and biodynamics, and so began a personal adventure filled with wonderful encounters in the four corners of the world.

These encounters, the result of a genuine commitment, have resulted in lasting relationships with producers, who for the most part have become friends and have allowed the Alsace-based company to gradually build up an exceptional range of organic and fair-trade teas and herbal teas.


Les  Jardins de Gaïa is aimed both at tea novices and connoisseurs, with a diversity which is unique in the market, ranging from the classics to the rarest and most precious leaves!

Whether the teas are plain or flavoured, white, green, oolong, black, rooibos or herbal, what they have in common is that they are organic, for the most part fair-trade and increasingly biodynamic.

Jardins de Gaïa are now leaders in the French market for organic and fair-trade teas and herbal teas and are developing numerous projects abroad.

The company’s well-known speciality: original, sparkling and poetic “in-house recipes” created and produced in Alsace – are hand-made at the production site, or by local eSATS (assistance and service centres helping disabled people into work). Because the company works with raw materials which come, for the most part, from faraway countries, one of its primary objectives is to support the local economy and local jobs.

Another sign of its commitment, the “Militant Teas and Rooibos” range is one of its flagship lines and emblematic of the brand. Les Jardins de Gaïa gives a share of the profits from the sale of these products to its favourite charities for which these recipes were created. Whether it’s helping to set up young farmers, providing training courses for the protection of bees, helping to set up micro-enterprises or giving seeds to disadvantaged farmers -every tube or packet sold gives them a bit more support.

At the same time, a partnership committee works at the heart of the company. Every year it works to support various cultural and associative causes, for the benefit of children – or more generally for mankind and the planet, though donations or patronage.

Finally, the Tea House, on the Les Jardins de Gaïa premises, is dedicated to the ancestral art of preparing and drinking tea. At the crossroads between East and West, open to the world and to tea, it was designed to promote contemplation among visitors. There are exhibitions of photos, paintings, ceramics, etc., and traditional Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies are regularly organised in the tea pavilion.

In this calm and restful place, the visitor has the opportunity to taste delicious blends, some of which are unique, and bring the magic home by exploring the range available in the shop. Truly an exotic and Zen journey in the heart of Alsace!

See their website here.


Last week, WFTO-Europe participated in the European Development Days together with some of the most important decision makers and advocates in the world: Presidents (from Norway, Ghana, Senegal, Bolivia and other countries), UN and EU representatives, NGO representatives, young leaders, entrepreneurs, CEOs and professors.

The agenda focused greatly on the involvement of the private sector and SMEs to achieve the Sustainable development Goals. Several sessions were on exactly this topic discussing how entrepreneurship in developing countries is one the ways to fight poverty and how sustainable business is the way to fight climate change.

Is was a true inspiration for the WFTO-Europe team to experience this market-based approach to development as it is in strong alignment with the Fair Trade Principles. The Fair Trade movement aims to fight poverty by creating opportunities to disadvantaged producers linking SDG 1 with Fair Trade Principle 1. Therefore, sessions focusing on creating economic development through agriculture were directly linked to our work in the Fair Trade Movement.

Other sessions focused on the power of female entrepreneurs in developing countries and the challenges they face with being women. These women do not only contribute to the achievement of SDG 1 and Fair Trade Principle 1, they also create gender equality and reduce discrimination achieving SDG 5 and Fair Trade Principle 6. At WFTO, we have recognized the huge potential of working women which let to our global campaign on International Women´s Day 2017 shedding lights on the unfair disadvantages women face in the workplace.

The agenda even included sessions specifically focusing on issues in the fashion industry and how to achieve the SDGs through ethical fashion. Sessions included representatives from Vivienne Westwood, Ethical Fashion Initiative, Danish Fashion Institute and Milano Fashion Institute. Here, we learned that ethical fashion is not only a trend, it is a new business model with an annual billion dollar potential that the industry must embrace, not only for profitable reasons but also to achieve sustainable development.

All in all, the European Development Days demonstrated that our “Trade Not Aid” approach is a strong way to create sustainable development emphasizing that the SDGs cannot be done without having everyone on board – we need the private sector as well as citizens.

Everyone plays a crucial role in the achievement of Sustainable Development. Become an Agent for Change and become a part of the achievement already today.

Childrens Day FT Principle 5 photo credit

Today marks the World Day against child labour. It is estimated that 215 million children worldwide are in work. This prevents the child from getting an education and from having time to play as an important part of a child’s mental development denying them their right to be a child. In half the cases of child labour, children even face physical and/or mental violence, lack of nutrition and care etc. This violates the children’s rights from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Fair Trade movement works towards eliminating child labour with Fair Trade Principle 5 which states “No Child Labour, No Forced Labour”. By doing this, the movement supports the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as SDG 4 “Quality Education” or 12 “Responsible Consumption and Production”. All members that are guaranteed by WFTO-Europe, adhere to the Fair Trade Principles ensuring that each principle is kept throughout their supply chain. When you buy products with the WFTO label, you are guaranteed that the product has not been produced and traded with child labour.

Child labour is especially an immense problem in the chocolate and textile industry where human rights and children’s rights violations in the productions are a well-known reality.

In the chocolate industry, this issue comes from child slavery in many West African cocoa fields. Here, children are victims of human trafficking and are forced to work long hours for no payment in the cocoa fields losing their childhood.

In the textile industry, the issue of child labour comes from consumer demands in Europe. With Fast Fashion, companies constantly seek to minimize prices resulting in the use of child workers who are willing to work for a low payment or who are being tricked into work.

A report by UNICEF and the Guardian explains that:

Child labour is a particular issue for fashion because much of the supply chain requires low-skilled labour and some tasks are even better suited to children than adults. In cotton picking, employers prefer to hire children for their small fingers, which do not damage the crop”.


When we buy cheap clothes in Europe, we do so at the sacrifice of children in the developing world. Therefore, we have the power to change these abuses.

Look out for our Fair Trade label next time you buy chocolate or textile products. For example, you can buy chocolate from GEPA or Bouga Cacao and clothing from People Tree, Elvang, Sari Fair Fashion or Re-Wrap.

You can help make an end to these devastating abuses. You can help protect children’s rights and achieve the SDGs. Everyone can be an Agent for Change with small efforts.

Be an Agent for Change by sharing this on Facebook or Twitter. Learn more about how to be an Agent for Change and make a real change to society here.


Photo credit (edited by WFTO-Europe): Adam Lai

Reflections by Eva Marie Wüst Vestergaard, Assistant Communications Officer at WFTO-Europe


Badou is a village in Western Togo close to Ghana, a region that produces cocoa and coffee. A company Gebana is investing here to raise awareness about organic and Fair Trade productions. Last summer, I came to Badou in an old mini bus full of locals. We drove up and down the twisty mountain roads. The roads went through rainforests passing small villages of clay houses. We arrived in the center of Badou and from there we had to take motor bikes on sandy bumpy paths, also through the rainforest. Every time we passed a small village, local children playing outside would sing “Yovo Yovo Bonsoir” and wave at us. We stopped by a mountain where we met a local man in tall rubber boots. The owner of a cocoa plant who was going to show us his small industry. We went by foot into the forest, passed rice fields and began to see cocoa- and banana trees. The owner proudly explained us when cocoa fruits were ripe and he plugged one that was too old. We had to cross small streams and rivers with slippery stones. As I was nervous, the owner carried me when crossing. On the way up, we met some local children and parents happily hiking. The farmer plugged mini bananas that cannot be compared to the ones I have had in Europe. On top, more families were playing by a waterfall. Many of them seemed to be visitors to the area. We went down again, where we saw a school and small tree houses in which the cocoa was stored.

I was with a friend, a local who was born and raised in Badou and had made his way to the capital of Togo, Lomé, to go to college. If it wasn’t for him, I would not have had the pleasure to have this unique experience. What was so special about this place was the feeling of community. Everyone took care of each other, everyone took care of me as their guest.


I will probably never be able to visit the other kind of cocoa plants that West Africa hosts. The reality here is very different and so heart breaking that I could never be aloud access to witness it with my own eyes. But many of us have watched the documentary “the Dark Side of Chocolate” which reveals how cocoa slavery in Ivory Coast is a reality and not just a rumor as excused by companies and government officials.

In these cocoa plants, you will find human rights violations starting with child labor. Not only are children employed and prevented from going to school, losing their childhood. They work with unsafe tasks such as climbing trees, doing heavy lifting, working with dangerous tools and pesticides often injuring them. The work is hard and lasts all day. They are beaten and whipped. The food is cheap and doesn’t provide the right nutrition. They don’t receive any payment.

The documentary shows how children end in these situations through human trafficking. Children will be tricked into coming to work in the plants with fake promises, or the children’s families are tricked into selling their child. In some cases, children are even kidnapped. Those who try to escape are being beaten.

This is slavery.

Fair Trade chocolate is slave free chocolate. Fair Trade chocolate adheres to the Fair Trade Principles: No child labor, no forced labor, good working conditions, fair payment etc. You make a massive difference when you buy chocolate from organizations that are guaranteed by WFTO such as GEPA and Bouga Cacao.

Yet, I have too often heard people state that Fair Trade chocolate problematically is more expensive. Even though this is not always correct, I have to ask: You will might save a euro but does it provide more value?

There is slave chocolate and there is slave free chocolate. Which value do you prefer?