We are FairHer Women
A Farmer, a Brand and a Shopper Tell Their Stories
Elvia Almachi is 32 years old, has two daughters, and works on a rose farm near one of the world’s tallest volcanos in Ecuador. She has never met Deborah Holt, Chief Marketing Officer of Marich Confectionery in Hollister, California, or Kylie Nealis, a grassroots organizer with Fair Trade Campaigns in Oakland, California. Elvia, Deborah and Kylie may be strangers, but they all have at least one thing in common: they each play an integral role in bringing Fair Trade to life.
In honor of our FairHer campaign, we asked all three women to tell us what Fair Trade means to them. Their stories highlight the importance of women – from producers to businesses to consumers – in building a better world with Fair Trade, and how women everywhere can help make a difference.
Elvia: Boundless Opportunity
Fair Trade was a game-changer for Elvia when she started working at the Agrogana flower farm twelve years ago. A longtime member of the flower industry, she was amazed at how Fair Trade standards worked to protect the fundamental rights of workers. For example, work hours are strictly regulated, harmful chemicals are eliminated, and Fair Trade farms are required to provide employees with maternity leave.
“I used to work at a flower company that exploited us – even when I was pregnant!” she recalls. “As soon as I came here, I could tell the difference was huge.”
That difference also includes access to new opportunities for Elvia and her family. Her two daughters participate in the children’s reading program that the workers at Agrogana established with their Community Development Fund – extra income earned for every Fair Trade purchase – to combat illiteracy in the community. In addition, Elvia and her husband, Luis, are pursuing high school equivalency degrees at an adult school established with the Fund.
Elvia knows that these tools will help her family build a brighter future.
“Fair Trade allows hundreds of families like mine to continually improve our lives,” she says. “Please continue to support us! We want everyone in the flower industry to have the same great benefits that we do here.”
Deborah: The Golden Rule
When consumers talk, businesses listen. So when people began telling the brand that Deborah Holt worked for five years ago that they wanted responsibly-sourced products, Deborah was quick to answer their call.
“Consumers cared about the people and planet – what was happening in the sourcing of the ingredients we used – so we turned to Fair Trade certification to show them that these were products they could feel good about,” shesays.
What started as an attempt to appeal to customers soon evolved into something deeper. As Deborah learned how Fair Trade worked, she saw that the choices brands make really do matter. She has since helped three companies source Fair Trade Certified™ cocoa.
“From an early age, I was taught to treat others the way I wanted to be treated,” she says. “Fair Trade has allowed me to integrate this belief into my professional life on a more holistic scale than ever before. When I began supporting Fair Trade, I knew I could wake up every day playing a part in making the world a better place.”
Deborah’s recent trip to a farming village in Cote d’Ivoire that sources cocoa for Marich Confectionery provided powerful evidence of brands’ ability to empower communities throughout the world. She is now more convinced than ever of brands’ importance in Fair Trade.
“In some instances, brands are the first to introduce consumers to Fair Trade and why it matters. That’s why we try to show consumers that our products are made by real people with real dreams,” Deborah says. “Teaching consumers about these farmers and their families underscores the impact that a purchase can have on individual lives.”
Kylie: Voting for Change
Kylie is no stranger to the important role that consumers play in Fair Trade. As the National Organizer for Fair Trade Colleges & Universities at Fair Trade Campaigns, she has encouraged thousands of consumers to make a difference through a simple Fair Trade purchase. She also provides consumers with tools to raise awareness and drive demand for Fair Trade Certified products within specific communities and institutions.
“I work with hundreds of student groups to bring Fair Trade to college and university campuses throughout the U.S.,” she says. “Colleges and universities have immense purchasing power and there’s a real opportunity for them to use that power to positively impact producers around the world by choosing to source Fair Trade products.
That impact was on full display for Kylie last December when she visited Doi Chaang Coffee, a Fair Trade coffee farm in northern Thailand. Just ten years ago, Doi Chaang village lacked paved roads and electricity. Now, thanks to the growers’ participation in Fair Trade, Doi Chaang is a thriving community with improved infrastructure as well as a health clinic and dedicated school where villagers can learn about growing high quality coffee.
Kylie knows that these improvements would not be possible without the support of consumers.
“Each day, consumers can vote with their dollars for a better world by choosing Fair Trade,” Kylie says. “We should never underestimate the difference that a simple purchase can make.”
According to Nielsen, women will control approximately two-thirds of consumer wealth in the United States within the next decade. With this increase in purchasing power comes tremendous capacity to do good.
We hope you’ll join the movement of FairHer women by using your voice and dollar to empower women across the globe. Look for the Fair Trade Certified seal whenever you shop. Reward brands that source Fair Trade and encourage others to join them. Tell your family and friends about Elvia, Deborah and Kylie, and how something as simple as a rose or chocolate bar directly connects us to women in Cote d’Ivoire, Thailand, and even at the base of a volcano.
Together, women can make the world a “FairHer” place.