In this Issue:
- Update on the last WFTO-Europe Board decisions
- International Women’s Day Celebration
- EU Fair Trade Cotton Procurement Award
- VOTE4FT Campaign: Briefing paper “Why Fair Trade matters”
- VOTE4FT: Linda Mc Avan – Socialists and Democrats Group -UK
- Member of the month: El Puente
4th March 2014: Debate public, Oxfam Magasins du Monde, Brussels (BE), Click here
8th March 2014: International Women’s Day, Click here
9th – 11th May 2014: European Youth Event, Strasbourg. Click here
10th May 2014: World Fair Trade Day 2014: “Fair Trade People”, Click here
Let us know about your events!
Update on the last WFTO-E Board decisions
In occasion of the last Board meeting, held the 9-10 January 2014 in Paris, the Board discussed some important issues such as the certification system and the advocacy strategy within our big organisation and took relevant decisions concerning both of these aspects.
1.WFTO-Europe concerns with regard to the lack of control of non WFTO members in the Fair Trade Guarantee System
The Board stressed once again the satisfaction of many European Members to the changes adopted by the present WFTO Global Board with regard to the previous certification system proposal (SFTMS) and the full agreement on the resolution adopted in the Rio de Janeiro that gave to the Global Board the mandate to implement the second step of the new “WFTO Fair Trade Guarantee System”. In line with it, the Board keeps thinking that a strong and credible WFTO Guarantee System it could be an historical added value for the Fair Trade Organisations. However, as a follow up of a debate launched in Mombasa in 2011 and in support of some questions raised up by EFTA members, the Board expressed a strong concern with regard to the lack of control/audit of non WFTO members in the Guarantee System and therefore the high risk of an unfair market competition between WFTO members and not members. The main concern turns around the current “open system” which allows a first buyer, which is non WFTO member, to use the WFTO label claiming to be “WFTO certified” without any monitoring process, even if with different logo. This situation is really dangerous and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. The main risk is indeed the unfair market competition that this will create between WFTO and non WFTO members. The Fair Trade Organisation, which are obliged to respect the full set of Fair Trade criteria, paying economical and organizational costs and efforts to respect every day all the 10 standards will be in fact penalized compared to non Fair Trade organizations that could use the certification label respecting just 2 of them and only declaring “to be adherent with the core FT principles”. The Board strongly believes that asking to the WFTO non members to comply with only the 3rd and 4th criteria is not a solution and that it will create many more problems than opportunities to WFTO and to the whole Fair Trade movement. A strict monitoring system needs to be set up. Being aware of the high importance of this issue, the Board agreed to address this specific concern to the WFTO Global coordinator of the new Standard and GS Committee in a formal letter and to follow up closely this issue.
2.Debate on advocacy and the role of WFTO Global towards the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO)
In the last months WFTO-Europe has been at the heart of an interesting and epistolary exchange of information with WFTO Global regarding the role of advocacy in the WFTO Global current strategic plan and the Global position towards FTAO. Considering the financial instability that the FTAO is currently facing, the Board of WFTO-Europe has indeed strongly endorsed the possibility of a return of WFTO Global to FTAO. It remembered to Global the Mombasa advocacy resolutions approved in 2011 and recommended WFTO Global Board to express a clear statement about the reasons behind its reticence to be back in FTAO. This letter has also been supported by another letter written by EFTA and addressed to Global concerning the same issue. The Board is delighted to communicate that this letter, sent to Global Board in December, has recently produced a strong and positive reaction. WFTO Global has firstlyrecognized the important role that advocacy has always played in its strategic plan and secondly the lack of engagement in the last two years due to the financial instability. Being aware of that, the Global Board has also made some specific proposals in favor of a stronger involvement of WFTO Global in advocacy and in particular in support of FTAO.
As a next step, the Board has accepted the invitation from Global to join the next Global Board meeting the 10th of March and it is assessing the relevance of these proposals and following up this issue with the FTAO collaboration.
International Women’s Day Celebration
According with WFTO-Global Initiative, in occasion of the International Women’s Day we have decided to collect stories about courageous and inspirational women who have been empowered through Fair Trade. Here you can find the first two stories: meet Joan & Teddy, two of our incredible entrepreneurs whose lives have completely changed, thanks to Fair Trade! Joan Ahimbisibwe and Teddy Namuyiga started their journey out of extreme poverty by rolling beads from recycled paper. Today they are among the 74% of BeadforLife’s beaders that have started businesses of their own. Today, they are flourishing businesswomen, brimming with gratitude and hope.
Joan is an entrepreneur extraordinaire! At 40 years old, she is a widow and a mother of three grown children. Upon the death of her husband, an AIDS victim, Joan was forced to give up any ownership of her land and home, and it was passed onto her two brother-in-laws. Joan then learned that she would also meet the same fate as the land – the two men were going to “inherit” her, and own her as their new wife. Both of the brothers were alcoholics and often displayed very abusive behaviour, so to avoid endangering her family, Joan escaped with her two small children to a Kampala slum where she struggled to provide even one meal a day.Weak with HIV symptoms, Joan still mustered the energy to work tirelessly making mud bricks and earning less than $1 a day. When Joan came across BeadforLife she immediately recognized the incredible opportunity and was determined to change her life. With her first income from creating the paper bead jewelry, Joan bought a piglet she fed on scraps, and sold later for a profit. With her confidence and momentum growing, she gave up her tiny rented room and moved into a small shop. During the day she sold rice, soap and sodas to the local community and at night, she would roll out a thin mattress behind the counter where she and her children slept. She saved her money, studied hard to learn basic business principles, and launched not only a second business, but also a third. Several years later, Joan heard that BeadforLife was buying 18 acres of land and would help beaders build their own homes. “It seemed like a far-off dream, impossible to believe. But I started to save money, just in case it came true. You can imagine what I felt when I was chosen in the first group to go and build our houses! Today, life is bountiful for Joan. She has been confronted with fierce discrimination, HIV-AIDS, and extreme poverty only to overcome these obstacles and transform herself into a successful entrepreneur. Joan currently owns her own land and home with an abundant garden of sweet potatoes, cassava, and cabbage. Two of her children are in an excellent boarding school and her daughter is studying at University.
Teddy, 33, is a single mother with three children. She was a happily married housewife until she gave birth to a baby girl who was born deaf. Her husband, enraged by their daughter’s disability, gave Teddy an ultimatum. If she wanted to continue with their marriage, she would have to get rid of baby Christine. Teddy refused to abandon her baby. Staying true to his words, her husband left her and discontinued any support for their family. Teddy was obliged to fend for herself and her children. “Those three years without anyone to turn to for help were the hardest years of my life. I worked so hard, yet I earned a pittance. I had become terribly thin and my sisters suggested I take the two children to their father. But I couldn’t, I was determined to do whatever it took to keep my children.” When BeadforLife’s membership team found her she was living in a shabby single room with a leaking roof. She was making crafts and washing clothes earning a mere $12 a month which is less than 50 cents a day. Teddy’s work ethic was a natural ‘fit’ for BeadforLife. Teddy worked meticulously to ensure that her beads were all of the highest quality to sell to BeadforLife. She never wasted money on luxuries and within the first three months of joining the program she was able to invest in a cow which became very valuable to the family. After being trained in market research, she came up with an idea that would be both beneficial for the community and would evolve into a profitable business. Due to the lack of a constant water supply in her community, people had to travel long distances to retrieve water and Joan saw this as a business opportunity. She invested in a large water tank and began selling water to her neighbors. She then decided to build a pigsty and chicken coop, and began rearing pigs and chickens. Today, her piggery is thriving with eight pigs, she sells clean water from her 5,000-liter water tank and 500 chickens supply her with trays and trays of eggs to sell in Kampala. Education has now been possible for Teddy and her family. Teddy has gone back to school and is pursuing a degree in Public Administration and management. She has been able to educate her children in some of the top schools in the country, and her daughter Christine is thriving at the Ntinda School for the Deaf. Now that Teddy is thriving, her husband wants her back. “He has apologized for everything he did to me and begs me to go back to him, but I just cannot,” she says. Teddy is the epitome of how women can shine when given an opportunity.
BeadforLife creates sustainable opportunities for women to lift their families out of extreme poverty by connecting people worldwide in a circle of exchange that enriches everyone.
Read others women’s stories and the Press Release “Marking International Women’s Day: March 8” by WFTO-Global on Our website!
EU Fair Trade Cotton Procurement Award
The 14th of February was the last day to apply for the European Fair Cotton Procurement Awards. The aim was to reward those who use best practice in cotton procurement and help improve the livelihoods of small scale and marginalised cotton producers. The Awards were open to all levels of local authorities, public bodies and higher education establishments that are subject to the EU public procurement rules. All these entities could apply for the European Fair Cotton Procurement Awards that will be given to individual organisations as long as a national Award scheme is organised in their respective country. A pool of evaluators will then assess the applications at national level and the best candidates will be nominated for the European Awards. A high-level jury will then decide on the final results. The prize winners will be awarded in the framework of the final conference of the project that will take place on 27th of March 2014 in Bremen (Germany). The pioneering initiative will recognise excellence in the sourcing of Fairtrade cotton and responsible purchasing within the cotton supply chain, by public bodies across Europe. Rachel Hearson, cotton account manager at the Fairtrade Foundation, says: the awards offer a chance to exchange best practice and influence procurement of Fairtrade cotton through replication. They will also improve your reputation and credibility as a leader in ethical procurement at a national and European level.’
V4FT Campaign: Briefing paper “Why Fair Trade matters”
The Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) released a briefing paper titled “Why Fair Trade Matters”. This document is available on FTAO website and, together with the Fair Trade Manifesto, has as objective of raising awareness of Fair Trade amongst the candidates running in the next European Parliament elections, as well as amongst European citizens. The paper argues that Fair Trade does matter because it empowers women; because it fights against climate change; and because it promotes high health and quality standards. Fair Trade also tackles child labour and creates a healthy rural economy.
Source: FTAO website
Members’ section / Oxfam
Pour un commerce plus equitable
Today Oxfam Magazines du Monde will organise a Public Debate with Franco-Belgian candidates at European Elections. Organized as part of its campaign “«Le commerce équitable, aussi un mouvement pour le travail décent» this debate will hear the positions of the major parties on issues of trade, development and the fight against inequality. A great opportunity to learn more and make your voice heard by the various candidates in the European elections, a critical level of power today, particularly in commercial matters. Oxfam Staff welcome you from 19h to the Maison des Associations Internationales at 40 Washington Street in Brussels.
For More Information click here.
VOTE4FT: Project Testimonials
Linda Mc Avan – Socialists and Democrats Group -UK
The 2014 European elections are approaching and it is time to pass into action. The 2014 Parliamentary candidates express their endorsement of Fair Trade in the run-up to their electoral campaign.
Here we have Linda Mc Avan from the Social and Democratic Group (UK), co-founder and long-time chair of the Fair Trade Working Group in the European Parliament, who presents her views on Fair Trade and international trade:
“I have been long standing support for Fair Trade; I became more when I visited Ghana with Oxfam and I met Fair Trade farmers”.
Click below to see the full testimonial!’
News from the Board
The minutes from the January Meeting (9th-10th) in Paris are now available online. You can access the minutes by logging in here.
The next Board meeting will be held via Skype on the 18th of March 2014.
Member of the Month
EL PUENTE is among the pioneers of the fair trade movementnt and is today the second largest fair trade organization in Germany. Already since 1972, EL PUENTE has stood as a bridge between north and south, and has worked with small businesses and cooperatives in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The work of EL PUENTE is not profit-orientated. Through the import and distribution of fair trade products, the organization supports more than 140 project partners in 40 different countries. The range of products consists of around 5,000 handicraft and food articles. Thus, the assortment ranges from jewelry and bags, to tableware and decorative pieces, right up to coffee, chocolate and spices. As a wholesale trader EL PUENTE sells the goods to about 1.000 fair trade shops in Germany and in some neighbouring countries.
The organization structure of EL PUENTE is pretty unique because of the so called “Partner Committee” (PaCo) which offers the producer organizations the opportunity to be an equal co-owner of the company. Moreover EL PUENTE has a special body which controls the activities of EL PUENTE independently. New project partners, whose products shall be incorporated in EL PUENTE’s assortment, need to be approved by this body, the so called PPA. Detailed questionnaires, completed by the partner organizations, serve as the main basis for the approval.
The city of Hildesheim in Northern Germany is the birthplace of EL PUENTE. It continues to be the location for many activities, which are mainly initiated by the EL PUENTE association. The only store owned by EL PUENTE is located in the very centre of Hildesheim, as well as the so called EL PUENTE “World Café”. In both places EL PUENTE offers products and carries out various activities and educational events. “With the development policy-related educational activities which are organized by many committed people on a voluntary basis, we make people more aware of Fair Trade, ” Richard Bruns, founder of EL PUENTE and voluntary manager of the WorldCafé explains. Many of these activities are supported by the EL PUENTE foundation, which promotes educational work in developmental- and socio-political topics in Germany.
WFTO Guarantee System
EL PUENTE is a WFTO member since 1997 and took part in the pilot project of the new WFTO Guarantee System in 2013. “The process of the WFTO-certification was extremely useful for us; we got very positive feedback for our work but also gained constructive criticism which helps us to improve,” Martin Moritz, manager of EL PUENTE Ltd. says.
Name: El Puente
Head Office: Hilde-heim, Germany
Date of foundation: 1972
FT-related News, Publications & other Tools
- The FTAO’s Internal Advocacy Bulletin for February 2014 (login required) includes articles regarding policy issues (EU in love with the Private Sector?; New European Union´s Pan-African programme: an opportunity to support Fair Trade?; Local and regional authorities in Europe gather around Fair Trade; Translations of Fair Trade definition: not an exact science!; Civil Society in Transition: our broken stories – seeds of new stories – a new activism?; Call for nominations: 2014 Prize for Women’s Creativity in Rural Life: an opportunity to promote Fair Trade) and FTAO news (Vote for Fair Trade Campaign: Briefing paper “Why Fair Trade matters”; New Members of the FTAO Team).
- The 15th of March will be the “World Consumers Rights Day”, a good opportunity to promote the basic rights of all consumers, for demanding that those rights are respected and protected, and for protesting the market abuses and social injustices which undermine them.
- SoleRebels, the planet’s fastest growing African footwear brand has launched a new e-commerce platform, soleRebels.com : A whole new way to “WalkNAKED”!
This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of WFTO-Europe and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.