New fund launched to power a new future for ethical trade

In the wake of Traidcraft plc’s closure in January, fair trade and ethical producer groups around the world have lost a market for a proportion of their sales. Depending on how much is raised, the new Producer Fund will enable Transform Trade to support some of them to find new markets and expand their operations, alongside stepping up support for producers and social enterprises more generally in the global south.

Transform Trade, formerly known as Traidcraft Exchange, separated from Traidcraft Plc in 2018. It campaigns for a just trading system and works in partnership with networks of workers, farmers and social entrepreneurs in South Asia and East Africa to fight for trade that values people over profit.

‘The world of ethical trade is under threat,’ said Transform Trade CEO Charlotte Timson. ‘This Fund will help put power back in the hands of artisans, growers and makers so they can face an uncertain future with confidence, in the same pioneering spirit of Traidcraft plc’s early days.’

The Fund was launched the week before Fairtrade Fortnight, which kicked off on 27 February.

‘We urgently need to increase support for mission-centred enterprises and people-centred trade,’ said Timson. ‘Across the world, there are thousands of businesses with alternative models of business ownership which return wealth to their communities. They’re the only future-proof business model, but right now we’re letting some of them struggle and die even though they’re showing a way forward for the rest of the market.’

One of the producers facing an uncertain future is Meru Herbs, a social enterprise selling organic teas, jams and pesto sauces. Its largest export market is the UK, and Traidcraft Plc was its largest buyer.

Meru’s managing director Sally Sawaya said: ‘285 farmers rely on orders from Meru Herbs. Including their families, around 1500 people will be adversely affected. That includes 20 support staff who cook the sauces and jams who we won’t be able to give work if we don’t get sufficient orders.’

Transform Trade launched the Fund after scoping need with ethical buyers and producer groups such as Meru Herbs. Donations will be used to support producers in Bangladesh, India, Kenya and Tanzania become more financially resilient through equipment, training, mentoring, and network building. It will also support work to amplify producer voices and power throughout supply chains and spread benefits beyond the producers and into their wider communities.

Kirsten Downer
Media Lead