Ben & Jerry’s Tweets for World Fair Trade Day 2011

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Mix Ben & Jerry’s with World Fair Trade Day and Twitter and you’ve got yourself one delicious socially-responsible sundae. The creative brains behind Ben & Jerry’s social mission have done it again! Their newest initiative allows Twitter users to “put their unused Twitter characters to good use.”

The Fair Tweets campaign automatically inserts a Fair Trade message at the end of a user’s tweet to spread awareness about World Fair Trade Day on May 14. It’s a pretty cool concept! To join the fun, simply visit their website (http://fairtweets.com), type in your Tweet and they automatically fill in the rest! In our example below, we typed the black message and they filled in the rest with the green message.

Unfamiliar with World Fair Trade Day? It’s an initiative of the World Fair Trade Organization and is supported by thousands of citizens, Fair Trade Organizations, social and environmental movements, producers and consumers all around the planet.

On May 14, millions will celebrate World Fair Trade Day. This year’s theme is “Trade for People – Fair Trade Your World.” It encompasses the need to put people and the environment at the heart of trade and consumption.

The World Fair Trade Organization is the global network of Fair Trade Organizations around the planet. It represents more than 400 Fair Trade Organizations from more than 70 countries with highest geographical outreach.

What are you doing to celebrate? Leave a comment and let us know!

Rosario: A Success Story from Mercado Global

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[tweetmeme]

Twenty-six year-old Rosario Gonzalez taught herself to sew as a young girl when she had to make clothes for herself and her younger sisters. She became a seamstress to support her family, but work was inconsistent, low-paying, and har d to find. One day a friend told her about an opportunity to join a women’s sewing cooperative which partners with Mercado Global. Today, Rosario earns a fair-wage and supports herself and her three-year-old daughter. As a single working mother Rosario can attest to the difficulties that life can bring, but she is hopeful that one day she will be able to afford her own house in which raise her daughter.

Learn about our other Helping Hand Rewards partners by clicking here

Cecilia’s Story: Divine Chocolate

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Cecilia’s Story

[tweetmeme] My name is Cecilia Appianim. I am 47 years old. I have three kids. One female, two male. My village is Asemtem in the Central Region. Fair Trade has helped us a lot. Because of Fair Trade, women can come out boldly and take part in Ceciliaevery event. Before it was not like that. Before we would stay at home and watch the men. And we would work with our husbands and they would take the money, put it in their pockets, and when it came time to buy food or pay school fees they would say the money is gone. But Kuapa has opened our eyes to see that everything should be 50-50. So if a man has one vote a woman has one as well. If the men come together to make a decision then the women are there to take part as well. So now we are empowered and the men they can not cheat us again. Today, as I am here, I am the national finance secretary of Kuapa Kokoo and also I am a village recorder. I buy the cocoa in my village. I show the farmers how much they will get paid, check their beans to make sure they are fine quality, and I make sure they know that the scale is free and they are not being cheated. I am the first woman in my village to be a recorder. When I was elected only the men ran against men. But now that I am the recorder more people bring their cocoa to Kuapa because I tell the women and they tell their husbands and the women know how much Kuapa does for them so they bring us their cocoa. Also because of Fair Trade we have some many projects for women. We make soap, tshirts, batik, we grow other food stuffs and sell in the market and then put some money into the credit union for hardship times or to pay our children’s school fees. My appeal to the women in the US is to support Fair Trade and to support Divine. Then we can get more premium to do even more projects for women in Ghana.”

A Gentle Giant

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[tweetmeme @helphandrewards]Among many coffee drinking consumers, it has a very negative image. Its presence is viewed like a Wal-Mart to the coffee shop industry, running smaller family-owned stores out of town. Contrary to popular belief, Starbucks has actually done the opposite. The presence of a Starbucks has actually benefited many “mom and pop” coffee boutiques in many cases (not to say there haven’t been a few casualties along the way…). The coffee giant also provies several other benefits that its local competition does not such as health benefits to employees, greater wages and of course…fair trade coffee.

Starbucks is the world’s largest producer of fair trade coffee. In 2008, the company purchased 385 million pounds of coffee for $1.49 per pound, 13 cents higher than the market value of that time. Within the next six months, the company is partnering with Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) to have every espresso drink served in Europe be Starbucks Fairtrade-certified. This effort alone, attained successfully, will help smaller farmers (most of which are located in poorer Latin American countries) earn $4 million annually.

Also in the works, Starbucks is partnering up with the African Wildlife Foundation to build a coffee quality lab in Kenya. Most coffee farmers up until now did not even get to drink or taste the coffee crop they harvested. The tools that this partnership is providing will help farmers improve their planting and harvesting techiniques and ultimately the qulaity of their crop.

Using its giant corporate muscle, Starbucks incorporates many forms of sustainable business practices to help improve lives for others. Like them or not, the choice is yours.

From a Cardboard Shack to a Sustainable Life: Dona’s Story

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Dona

Dona’s Story: World of Good Inc

Dona, a lively, energetic woman, becomes solemn as she begins her story. Tears melt into her weathered face as she talks about her five children and abusive husband.

With very little income, her family lived in a makeshift cardboard shack on the streets in the Zona Roja. She was unable to work and was reliant on her alcoholic husband to bring home food for her family. On numerous occasions, she found herself lying awake at night, hungry because her husband never came home and fearful that once he did come home, she would have to take her children and flee to avoid his abuse.

One morning, Dona awoke to find her daughter sick and needing immediate medical attention. She had heard of a free clinic in the Zona Roja run by a non-profit called UPAVIM or “United for a Better Life,” and immediately set out on foot in search for help.

While waiting for her daughter at the clinic, Dona learned of a program at UPAVIM that employed women to produce fair trade crafts for the local and export markets. As the woman from UPAVIM rattled off all the services provided to the members of the cooperative, including childcare and education for their children, hope slowly started to flow through Dona’s tired and desperate heart. She knew that UPAVIM was her only escape.

After completing 32 hours of required volunteer service, Dona’s membership into UPAVIM was accepted. She started working for their crafts program and immediately her life began to change. With her new found income, Dona was able to free herself from her dependency on her violent and unreliable husband. She became the sole provider for her family and was able to break the cycle of hunger and abuse, which had plagued her children since birth. Today, in her sixties, Dona lives in a cinderblock house near the UPAVIM headquarters. Through her work, Dona has been able to provide her children with an education so that they may further their lives. One of her daughters has decided to follow in her footsteps and is being trained on craft production. Dona spends her free time helping Angela, UPAVIM’s craft director, maintain her rooftop garden.

She is proud of her accomplishments and even though it has been years since she lived on the streets, she still becomes emotional when she shares her story with others. I am inspired by Dona’s courage and determination.

She is just one of hundreds of thousands of Guatemalan women faced with the constant threats of poverty, domestic abuse and hunger. UPAVIM in partnership with World of Good, Inc. provides a way out of this cycle of poverty for thousands of women in Guatemala City.

Established in 1988, today the cooperative has nearly 70 members; their craft sales, soymilk production and newly developed internet center support a dental and medical clinic, pharmacy, as well as tutoring, alternative learning, day-care and nutrition centers, all on site. UPAVIM is an outstanding example of what a community can accomplish and is making sustainable and influential changes where Guatemala City needs it most.

World of Good has been partnering with UPAVIM since 2007 to transform the lives of women in Guatemala City by offering them consistent orders and financial stability.header_logo

Harry Potter and the Fair Trade Chocolate

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Harry Potter Chocolate Frogs

The title of this blog isn’t likely to become the title of a new post-addition to the Harry Potter series. However, what does the world’s most famous wizard this side of Merlin and chocolate have in common?

The Harry Potter name, along with books and movies, is branded on countless forms of merchandise including chocolate frogs, fudge flies, and cockroach clusters (treats also used in the stories). Chocolate used in these merchandise items most likely comes from Africa’s Ivory Coast, the epicenter of a large debate over fair trade chocolate. The company producing the chocolate for these Harry Potter items is part of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), an organization who’s mission statement includes “promotes a sustainable cocoa economy through economic and social development and environmental conservation in cocoa growing communities.” It sounds like a great organization, however other large brands associated with this foundation have pending lawsuits involving child labor laws.

So how can Harry Potter help improve Fair Trade practices in the chocolate industry?

Using its astronomically huge fan base, Harry Potter fans have formed a group called “The Harry Potter Alliance” that is using that fan base to promote social change. One change is the usage of Fair Trade chocolates within the merchandising efforts of the Harry Potter brand. The theory is that if enough voices are raised (and there are plenty of voices in the Harry Potter fandom) that real social change could be enacted.

A good example of a company involved in the fair trade of chocolate is Helping Hand Rewards partner Divine Chocolate. The mission of Divine Chocolate is to improve the livelihood of smallholder cocoa producers in West Africa by establishing their own  chocolate brand, putting farmers higher up the value chain. These cocoa farmers receive a Fair Trade price for their cocoa and use that money to be able to reinvest in their own communities. Divine Chocolate also seeks to raise awareness of Fair Trade issues to retailers and consumers of all types. 

Can Harry wave his wand and help increase Fair Trade practices even further? What do you think?