3 March, 2014

On the road with a Fairtrade producer

by Jenny Foster, Bristol and South West Fairtrade Co-ordinator

Jenny Foster, Bristol and South West Fairtrade Co-ordinator, has been hosting Margarita Espinoza, a Fairtrade coffee producer from Nicaragua, this Fairtrade Fortnight. Here Jenny explains how valuable producer tours are.

Margarita Espinoza'Are you getting tired?' I asked Margarita Espinoza, at her 11th appearance of the week during Fairtrade Fortnight.

'No! I'm loving it,' she replied with an enormous smile and a hug. Such is the incredible commitment and spirit of this diminutive woman from the Soppexcca co-operative in Nicaragua, who has never left the region before, but is entirely undaunted by classrooms of children, corporate rooms full of business people and council committees. The reason? She's passionate about talking about Fairtrade and really wants people to understand the incredible impact it's had on her community - from building schools and funding scholarships to buying machinery and helping co-operative members to become more environmentally friendly.

As women’s officer at Soppexcca she is also understandably proud of setting up a cancer screening clinic which has already screened 20,000 women - all paid for by the Fairtrade Premium.

Margarita is in Bristol and south Gloucestershire for Fairtrade Fortnight, courtesy of Bristol Link with Nicaragua and the Co-operative. When she spoke at a business breakfast to launch Fortnight, civic and business leaders there made 92 pledges to increase Fairtrade procurement and spread the Fairtrade message and every single one of them signed the petition to support the Foncho campaign to Make Bananas Fair.

Fairtrade BristolMargarita has already spoken at eight schools, the University of Bristol and two community events as well as to 90 teachers and pupils at the South West Fairtrade Schools Conference. So, in week two of Fairtrade Fortnight, I’m confident that Fairtrade is now on the agenda in many more homes, businesses and schools because of the power of Margarita’s message.

Her visit will finish, most appropriately, with a Fairtrade celebration for International Women’s Day at Bristol’s M Shed museum on Saturday 8 March. I hope the people coming are ready to be wowed!

South West Fairtrade Schools ConferenceFind out more about events in your area for Fairtrade Fortnight here.

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