Posts Tagged ‘Fair Trade’

I am an MBA….who wants to save the world (or atleast try to)

You might have seen a form of this tweet from me this past week or so:

OFFER: #MBA (expert: strategy/acct mgmt/ITstartups) seeks <6month #Africa project in #socent #microfinance or #fairtrade http://su.pr/2WErgp

I have been slowly perfecting my 140 character blurb to maximize exposure in the Twittersphere in the hopes that my message somehow comes across the desktop of someone who could use my help. I spend a lot of time tweeting and blogging about my various personal and professional interests, but my friends, I am at a crossroads and need your help.  My 6 month Taproot Foundation strategic planning project with Seattle Goodwill Industries has just ended, we are on “summer break” for my board post at Seattle Net Impact, and my big special events with Fabric of Life Fair Trade Foundation and Boutique have come and gone.

I am more than one year out from receiving my MBA from ESADE, and 8 months into my new life in the Seattle, WA area, and it’s time to make some changes and progress.  I have spent lots of time researching, networking, and just general thinking about what I want to do with my degree and my professional life.  What I have concluded is that more than anything, I want a fulfilling career where I can use business to help solve our toughest social (and environmental) issues.  I am inspired by the good work being done by Grameen Foundation, Marigold Fair Trade Clothing, Acumen Fund, Fair Factories Clearinghouse, and of course by the amazing social entrepreneurs at Ashoka.  Getting out in the field, and aligning myself with these types of organizations would be a dream come true, and a giant leap in the direction of being able to leave my positive mark on the world.

At this point, I think it’s important that I get some hands on professional experience in a developing nation (perhaps in Africa?).  Yes I have an MBA from Spain, and while that experience was invaluable, it doesn’t quite fulfull my desire and need to have a job abroad. To sum up my goals as of this moment:

<<<I am now seeking a short-term (6 months of less) project in a social enterprise, fair trade cooperative, or microfinance institute in a developing nation, preferably in Africa.  Ideally I would like a paid project, but would be OK with an opportunity that pays all my expenses.>>>

My pre-MBA background was in IT start ups, and so I feel very comfortable in technical environments.  I am an expert in account management and training, and also have experience with non-profit outreach, event planning and market research.

***If you know of any organizations who might be able to use my help, please have them contact me via email: megan_le@hotmail.com or twitter: meganle.  Thank you everyone!!!***

Marigold Fair Trade Clothing: Facilitating the conversation between social and environmental business

Through the Fabric of Life World Fair Trade Day I helped put on last month, I had the pleasure of meeting a fantastic lady: Beth Provo.  She found her passion and followed that dream to develop her own social business: Marigold Fair Trade Clothing.  Not only is she helping to promote fair trade business practices through high fashion in North America, she is also working to bridge the gap between organic fabrics and fair trade.  Today’s media and business seems to be so focused on the environment through it’s nebulous messages of “going green,” that we all seem to be forgetting about the social component of our buying decisions. But it doesn’t have to be one way or the other….if consumers tell corporations that we want a product to be BOTH organic AND fair trade, they will deliver, but we have to demand it.

This is where businesses like Marigold are playing such a crucial role: in the education of consumers.  We must give ourselves some credit and realize that if have the courage to listen and learn, and start a conversation about who made our T-shirt, with what materials, under what conditions and where…then consumers will start to ask the tough questions and be a little more conscious of their purchases.

At World Fair Trade Day at Fabric of Life, residents of Edmonds came into the store and saw the beautiful hand-block printed dresses, skirts and blouses that Beth had on display at the boutique.  But Beth was there to tell them that not only was that hand-stitched dress gorgeous, but it was made by a woman in a slum of Mumbai, India.  But then she was also able to tell them that the woman was paid a fair wage, is a member of cooperative that helps to make her economically self-sufficient, and is not working in a sweat shop. When the customer asked about the fabric, Beth was able to tell her that yes it is cotton, but cotton that is chemical-free and therefore did not harm the farmer, the worker or the environment and community around it. Interactions like these get the average consumer to start to think twice about exactly why that tank top at Old Navy is only $5.00, and whether or not we are OK with punishing the workers down the supply chain in order to have new, cheap, expendable clothing every week.

Kudos to the good work that Beth is doing to promote the use of organic cotton in the production of fair trade clothing!  Interested in learning more about the great organizations that Marigold Fair Trade Clothing works with? Check out these links:

Fair Trade Federation

Green America

SweatFree Communities

South Sound Clean Clothes Campaign

Fair Trade Your Supermarket

This past Saturday May 8th was World Fair Trade Day, and in honor of this I helped an organization I volunteer with, Fabric of Life, put on a big celebration.  I have spent the last couple of months entering contests, securing vendors, using social media to promote my event, and over all I think it went very well! For a small boutique in downtown Edmonds, WA we did pretty darn well and had about 225 visitors….OK so the FREE Fair Trade Ben and Jerry’s ice cream didn’t hurt my cause =)

At the event, I mostly worked the oh-so-popular “education” table- I tried to win over guests with my smile and kind words and get them to “step* away * from * the * ice * cream” to talk to me.  I wanted to spread the word of Fair Trade to as many people as I could, and did my best to explain what the concept meant, how to identify products with the labels, and showed them examples of products I pulled out of my kitchen cabinet.  Not surprisingly, many times when I asked if someone if knew what Fair Trade was, and then after they said “Yes”, I followed up with “do you know how to identify Fair Trade products”, most of the time they said “NO.” And this was OK, because that’s my job to tell them!

More info:

Fair Trade Resource Network

Transfair USA

Fair Trade Federation

…..Now that everyone is an expert on Fair Trade, it’s time to make sure you can find the Fair Trade products you crave in YOUR supermarket. Click here to find out how!

Some last minute gift advice

OK yes I know it’s been a while since my last post… but I am back! And I am here to offer some advice and ideas as the holiday gift giving comes to a head this weekend!

Want to give sustainable gifts? 2009 Gift Guide : TreeHugger.

Why not offer a micr0-loan on behalf of someone else? Kiva

Like fair trade gifts? Global Exchange

Did you know ebay has another site with items that make you feel “good?” World of Good

Plastic bags blow and don’t you need more totes? Resuable Bags

Want to know about Green Wrap and Gift Bags? Just say no paper wrapping

I would love to hear your thoughts on how you are trying to make your holidays more sustainable and spread the good work to your friends and family…. Happy Holidays!

Developments in the Fairtrade market

The fairtrade movement is definitely picking up steam, but most people only think they can buy ethically sourced coffee and tea- that’s no longer the case!  Chocolate is becoming more available, especially now that Cadbury UK has committed to fair trade practices in their supply chain.  But did you know that you can also buy fairtrade spices? Fruit? Sugar? And even wine?

For more info check out: SpecialtyFood.com.

A Fair Trade Year in Review

Looking to find out more about fair trade? How about how far we have come (or the work still ahead of us) in 2008?  Click to see what businesses, consumers and individual cities can accomplish!

Fair Trade – Change.org: A Fair Trade Year in Review.